Bristol Interaction and Graphics


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Brain-Computer Interaction

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Bristol Interaction and Graphics is united by a common interest in creative interdisciplinarity. We act as a hub for collaboration between social scientists, artists, scientists and engineers to combine efficient and aesthetic design. We are particularly interested in areas which couple the design of devices with deployment and evaluation in public settings. Members of the group have expertise in research areas spanning human-computer interaction, visual and tactile perception, imaging, visualisation and computer-supported collaboration.

Recent News

VideoHandles receives honorable mention at SUI 2014

YouTube: VideoHandles

Jarrod Knibbe, Sue Ann Seah and Mike Fraser presented their work on VideoHandles at SUI 2014 and received an honorable mention for best short paper.

VideoHandles is a novel interaction technique for searching through action-camera (e.g. GoPro) video collections. Action-cameras are designed to be mounted, switched on and then ignored as they record the entirety of the wearer’s chosen activity. This results in a large amount of footage that may only include a small number of interesting moments. When reviewing the footage later, these interesting moments are hard to locate.

VideoHandles presents a novel solution to this problem, enabling the wearer to search through the footage by replaying actions they performed during the initial capture. For example, a diver goes for a long dive and communicates with their buddy throughout using a series of hand gestures. On one occasion, the diver sees a puffer fish and gestures ‘puffer fish’ to their buddy (a fish swimming motion, followed by a mimicked inflation) so that they can see it too. Later, using VideoHandles, the diver repeats the puffer fish gesture in front of the camera in order to locate that exact moment in their footage. Alongside returning the puffer fish footage, VideoHandles also returns all other moments including the ‘fish swimming’ gesture – a key component of all fish gestures in scuba diving.

The VideoHandles work explored action-camera use across a large collection of footage and presented a number of interaction styles and usage scenarios, both enthusiast and professional, including biking, windsurfing and archaeological excavation.

Through the combining glass

Youtube:  Through the combining glass

Diego Martinez Plasencia, Florent Berhaut and Sriram Subramanian will present their paper on how semi transparent mirrors blend together the spaces in front and behind them. The paper investigates this further and highlights a whole new range of interactive experiences enabled by it.

In a museum, people in front of a cabinet would see the reflection of their fingers inside the cabinet overlapping the exact same point behind the glass. By directly pointing at the exhibit with their reflection, instead of pointing at them through the glass, people could easily discuss the features of the exhibits with other visitors. Pop-up windows can also show additional information about the pieces being touched.

Combining this approach with different display technologies offers interesting possibilities for interaction systems. By placing a projector on top of the cabinet, fingertips could work as little lamps to illuminate and explore dark and sensitive objects. When a hands reflection cuts through the object, the projections on visitorsí hands could be used to reveal the inside of the object, which would be visible to any user.

We also demonstrated artistic installations that combine this approach with volumetric displays. Musiciansí record loops in their digital mixers and these appear as floating above the digital mixer. Musicians could then grab these representations, to play them or tweak them with different musical effects.


Green Hackathon Win at ICT4S: Hacking for Sustainability

Daniel Schien and Christopher Weeks were part of a group awarded joint first place at the recent Green Hackathon held as part of the ICT4S (ICT for Sustainability) conference in Stockholm.  Spending a day underground at a dismantled nuclear reactor at KTH, the teams competed to develop a project around the theme of “food”.  Britons throw away the equivalent of 6 meals a week, leading to over 7.2 million tonnes of household food waste a year.

The winning project was “Eat Exchange”, an app to allow people to share their not-quite-past-date food with others.  Just about to go on holiday but have a nearly full container of milk in the fridge?  Or maybe you stocked up on a 2 for 1 offering last week, but it’s now about to go out of date?  The app allows you offer the item to a network of trusted friends, family, and neighbours, and get text notifications in return when something is being offered.

Although currently in the design phase, watch this space – perhaps a fully functioning prototype will make its way to ICT4S 2015!

Paper accepted for Frontiers of Human Neuroscience

Congratulations to Hannah Limerick whose first paper as a PhD student has been accepted for publication in the journal Frontiers of Human Neuroscience:

  • Limerick, H., Coyle, D. & Moore, J.W. (2014). The Experience of Agency in Human-Computer Interactions: A ReviewFront. Hum. Neurosci. 8:643. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00643.

Hannah has also given presentations on agency in speech interfaces at two international conferences on cognitive science: ASSC 18 and ICON 2014.

University of Bristol Wins The Best Artwork Award in ISMB 2014

ISMB 2014 has just announced the winner of The Best Artwork Award of this year goes to the ‘supraHex’ by Dr. Hai Fang and Prof. Julian Gough from Department of Computer Science, University of Bristol. Full details of the winner are available here.

The Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology (ISMB) is the world’s largest bioinformatics/computational biology conference. ISMB 2014 was held on Boston, attracting top computational biology researchers from around the world. As part of this annual conference, the Art & Science Exhibition displays images and videos (called ‘artworks’) that are supposed to be results of creative efforts that involve scientific concepts or tools. This exhibition aims to open our eyes and minds, both scientifically and aesthetically.

ISMB 2014

Based on real-world genome-wide expression data, the artwork ‘supraHex’ is automatically produced by an open-source R/Bioconductor package under the same name. This artwork is inspired by the prevalence of natural objects such as a honeycomb or at Giant’s Causeway, also capturing mechanistic nature of these objects: formation probably in a self-organising manner.

Apart from the artwork itself, the package can do more, outlined as follows: i) the supra-hexagonal map trained via a self-organising learning algorithm; ii) visualisations at and across nodes of the map; iii) partitioning of the map into gene meta-clusters; iv) sample correlation on 2D sample landscape; and v) overlaying additional data onto the trained map for exploring relationships between input and additional data. It is freely available at

BIG at the Royal Society

BIG lab members proudly demonstrated Ultrahaptics at the prestigious Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition as part of ‘The hidden world of ultrasonic waves’. The exhibit is a collaboration with the Department of Mechanical Engineering at University of Bristol and Electromechanical Research group at the University of Southampton.

The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition is an annual display of the most exciting cutting-edge science and technology in the UK.  This year’s exhibition which ran from 1 to 6 July attracted over 10,000 members of the public and 2,000 school students. The team also presented at the Royal Society’s Evening Soirée which is an invite-only black-tie event for VIPs and distinguished fellows from the Royal Society.



BIG Lab goes to Founders Forum


The BIG lab was in esteemed company as Ultrahaptics and Sensabubble were demonstrated at Founders Forum in London.

Founders Forum is a community for the best global entrepreneurs, select inspiring CEOs and key investors, in media and technology. Their invite-only forums bring together over 3000 of the world’s best, brightest and most dynamic digital entrepreneurs, who engage in brainstorming, discussion and experiencing demos of futuristic technology.

This year’s guestlist included Eric Schmidt of Google, HRH The Duke of York and many more pioneers in their fields. The BIG demos certainly impressed the audience and fitted in well amongst the fast cars, quadcopters and telepresence robots.

Digital Sustainability: IEEE Computer features our work with The Guardian newspaper

This months IEEE Computer magazine green column features our work on sustainability of digital services that we carried out with The Guardian. It summarises our modelling work of the end-to-end energy consumption of digital services carried out in the (Sympact) project. These models are used to estimate the carbon footprint of servers, networks and user devices for text or video services and have served The Guardian to become the first organisation to use such findings in its annual sustainability report.

Anne Roudaut won a prestigious Leverhulme early career fellowship

The Research Awards Advisory Committee of the Leverhulme Trust agreed to offer Dr. Anne Roudaut an Early Career Fellowship tenable for 36 months to enable her to conduct research on shape-changing devices. Offering fifty per cent match-funding for the salary costs of three-year academic research position, the scheme enables early career researchers who have a proven record of research to undertake a significant piece of publishable work.

More information on the Leverhulme Trust here

BIG Goes Green!

All of Chris Preist’s team members have had papers accepted to the 2nd annual ICT4S (ICT for Sustainability) conference in Stockholm.  The conference brings together researchers in the field of sustainability to discuss what role technology can play in encouraging a sustainable lifestyle, as well as investigating both the positive and negative impacts of technology.

Elaine Massung will be presenting a paper entitled “Beyond Behaviour Change: Household Retrofitting and ICT” about the work of the Digital Green Doors project and its deployment of a smartphone app at the Bristol Green Doors eco open home event.  She discusses how technology can help make retrofitting within a community visible, thereby enhancing community learning and the spread of best practice.

Dan Schien is “Reviewing Top-Down Models of Internet Network Energy Efficiency”.  Environmental assessments of digital services wishing to take into account an energy footprint of the Internet typically require models of the energy intensity of the Internet. The system boundaries of past studies have applied varied considerably, resulting in increased uncertainty in the assessment results. Dan has reviewed existing top-down models and found that the energy intensity of the general Internet network in 2014 varies between 0.05 and 0.6 kWh/GB when top-down modelling is applied, which is considerably lower than previous estimates had indicated.

Paul Shabajee’s “ICT 4 Climate Change Adaptation” outlines the varied nature of climate change adaptation contexts and presents a set of prototype tools that aim to enable the identification, exploration and assessment of opportunities for ICTs to play positive roles across that full spectrum of contexts.  Paul also highlights the importance of considering the unintended consequences of technologies.

And Chris Weeks’ “Power law of engagement: Transferring disengaged householders into retrofitting energy savers” was one of only eight nominated for a Best Paper award.  It asks the question “How can we move householders from being disengaged passive energy consumers towards being highly motivated retrofitting energy savers?” He introduces a “power law of engagement model for energy saving”, which breaks down the process of engaging householders into eight defined stages. The focus of the model is both to build up an individual’s level of commitment and engagement, and to allow them to provide feedback into the community in order to increase the culture of retrofitting.