Personal ubiquitous interfaces require research enabling multiple, rich communication channels between people and vast bodies of information. …
Article by Peter Barr
Personal ubiquitous interfaces require research enabling multiple, rich communication channels between people and vast bodies of information.
Every day, huge numbers of people interact with information, and each other, via a diverse set of systems that combine computing and communication. These systems include desktop computers, shared computer clusters, the internet, mobile phones, PDAs, cameras and cars. Yet, while the amount of information online increases inexorably, our systems remain less usable and useful than they should be, with problems at the interface between human and system. Today, the most common form of information access involves an individual person sitting at a computer screen, typing a query in English into a search engine such as Google. This model of interaction may be out of date but going beyond it demands a new approach to human–information interaction that combines an understanding of people and information, and the interactions between them, individual human intellectual and social abilities, means of structuring vast amounts of information, and ways of exploiting multiple rich communication channels.
Scotland has a range of expertise doing advanced research into the problems of human–information interaction, especially the new dimensions of interfaces which are opened up by multimodal information processing capacity. Researchers all over the world are considering both conventional, textual ways of accessing multimodal information (such as video), and also unconventional, multimodal ways (such as gesture). The research groups in Scotland have traditionally had different emphases and focused on specialist topics – for instance, information retrieval and human–computer interaction (Glasgow), speech recognition and synthesis (Edinburgh). But by working together on joint research projects such as MATCH (Mobilising Advanced Technologies for Care at Home), researchers from the different universities in Scotland have recognised that they can share solutions and work more closely together, enabling them to make an international-level contribution through SICSA.