Tag Archives: lisc

New academics join team of computer scientists

Two specialists in human-computer interaction have joined the growing team at the University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science.

Dr John Shearer and Kathrin Gerling will be continuing their research into interactive technologies that have a purpose beyond entertainment.

Ms Gerling is particularly interested in how motion-based interfaces can be used by people with special needs and her award-winning research on wheelchair-based game input has been presented at top international venues.

By modifying a Microsoft Kinect sensor, Ms Gerling demonstrated how gamers in a wheelchair could interact with motion games. The modification that she made to the Kinect meant that the system could take into account the position and movement of the wheelchair.

Ms Gerling, who will teach on the Games and Social Computing programmes, said: “Some wheelchair-bound patients at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities could benefit from the exercise and entertainment provided by gaming. Commercial technologies don’t really think about these user groups but these games could be a lot more inclusive and benefit society as a whole.

“I would like to create games that help people get better at using wheelchairs, particularly those who have suffered disability as a result of an accident. People struggle a lot more to accept their situation and get used to their assistive device if it happens later in life. It’s nice to be able to help to improve people’s quality of life.”

She is now looking to make contact with local groups who provide support for people with disabilities.

Dr Shearer’s work focusses on engaging the public in ‘creative play’ and understanding how people interact with computers.

He has recently revived his interest in live performance through his work on the humanaquarium – a moveable performance space designed to explore the relationship between artist and audience.

The project involved two musicians working with audience members to create an audio-visual performance using a touch sensitive transparent screen. The humanaquarium was designed to be in a public place, so people could discover and explore the installation, encouraging them to share in the experience of creative play.

Dr Shearer, who will teach graphics and games programming, said: “I approach human-computer interaction from a slightly different perspective – that of how people interact with the finished product, not how it is created. I take a more experience-based approach to designing collaborative interactive performance.

“You usually test software in a nice, safe environment such as a laboratory. That alters people’s reaction as it is a very clinical place. You need to put the technology out there in a public space so the understanding and reaction from people is a lot more realistic.”

Dr Shearer is now looking to create more installations in public spaces and is involved with the School of Computer Science’s Videogames Research Network, set up to explore new concepts in the design and creation of movement-based games.

Kathrin Gerling





Graduates from UK’s first Social Computing degree will fill skills gap

The face of computing and computer science has changed dramatically over the last ten years, with social media transforming not only the way business operates but society as a whole.

In direct response to this increasingly digital landscape, the University of Lincoln has created the UK’s first BSc (Hons) programme in Social Computing that will teach the fresh skillsets required.

The key computer science components such as programming, mathematics and software engineering will form the basis of the degree, but it will expand into the crucial areas of social software design, implementation and evaluation as well as analytical aspects of social data.

Programme leader Professor Shaun Lawson, from the University’s School of Computer Science, said: “The design, understanding and analysis of social media platforms need to be an integral part of the computer science curriculum.

“In particular there is a big demand for graduates who have the right kind of skills to not only design and implement these mobile and social software platforms, but to also analyse how people are using the existing platforms in order to improve them. Business and industry need people who can make best use of these social media applications.”

The programme will build on existing links with industry partners in order to produce highly employable computing graduates with skills that are relevant to a wide range of commercial employers.

Professor Lawson, who is the Director of the Lincoln Social Computing Research Centre (LiSC), added: “At the programme’s core is computer science and programming, so students will learn how to design these systems, which right now is a huge requirement in industry.

“The difference with this course is that it will build on those core areas taking into account the massive explosion of a particular type of computer platform. Every business is interested in social media and how it can gain an advantage over competitors, and our graduates will have this crucial knowledge.”

Students will also have the opportunity to work with academics and postgraduates in LiSC, the first UK research group to explicitly focus on social computing from a Human Computer Interaction (HCI) perspective.

Much of the Centre’s work is directed at understanding people’s use of social media services such as Facebook and Twitter, as well mobile apps and games.

The BSc (Hons) in Social Computing is now recruiting for its first cohort of students in September 2014.

For more information please go to http://auth.lincoln.ac.uk/home/course/cmpsocub/ or call Megan Smith on 01522 835719.

“Learn To Lead” on Italian TV

The Social Computing Research Centre which is within the School of Computer Science has been working on a collaborative serious game development project called “Learn To Lead”. Learn To Lead (L2L), which is funded by the European Union Lifelong Learning Programme, aims to deliver training to SME’s in the field of leadership and management development.

L2L gets exposure on RAI, Italy's main broadcaster.
Along with academic and industrial partners from Italy, Spain, and France, academics from the School worked in particular upon the game design phase of the project, which is nearing the completion of its two year development. The project recently enjoyed coverage on Italy’s national TV channel, RAI.

A more in depth look at the L2L project will be posted in the near future.

Research Spotlight: Honda’s ‘Power of Minds’ event

Dr Ben Kirman was recently invited by Honda to attend their ‘Dream Factory’ hack day initiative. Hosted at the Guardian offices and organised by Rewired State, the hack saw 23 developers from across the country feverishly developing prototypes and concepts based on the brief supplied by Honda.

The brief was based on the brand message for the new Honda Civic, which is “If we never venture into the unknown, how do we get anywhere new?”, along with “The Power of Dreams” and the four key attributes of “Quality, Technology, Design and Evolution”.

Ben worked on two projects during the event: ‘Corridor of Dreams’, an art installation that detects individuals as they move through a corridor, and which then renders a ‘dream’ for that individual, and ‘Get Lost’, an app which literally took the Honda Civic message of “If we don’t venture into the unknown, how do we get anywhere new?”.

Ben’s ‘Get Lost’ creation was selected as a winner of its ‘Evolution’ category, and which is going to be part of a Guardian readers vote for a further prize!

Read more about Ben’s experience and the apps at the Honda event over at the LiSc blog.