Steven Benford

(Mixed Reality Lab, Nottingham/UK)


I am Professor of Collaborative Computing in Computer Science and IT at The University of Nottingham where I am a member of the Mixed Reality Laboratory, and the Equator project.  


The Mixed Reality Laboratory (MRL) is an interdisciplinary research initiative at the University of Nottingham. The MRL brings together leading researchers from the Schools of Computer Science, Engineering and Psychology to research mixed reality - new technologies that merge the physical and digital worlds. The MRL is focused on the development and application of mixed reality to visualisation, learning, knowledge management, control systems, ethnomethodological studies, leisure and co-operative work.

My research interests concern advanced interaction and communication technologies for rich and dynamic social interaction. Specific areas of interest include: mixed reality, augmented reality, virtual reality, physical interfaces, distributed systems and their application to entertainment and education.  

My research is focused on advanced interaction and communication technologies for rich and dynamic social interaction.   This involves creating new interactive technologies including:  

·         Novel interactive surfaces, for example:         Using everyday flashlights to interact with walls and posters         Traversable interfaces that enable participants to step into a virtual world by passing through a projected image        Pushback tangible interfaces such as pouts (pop-out-pins)

·         Mobile and location-based interfaces         Interfaces that are designed with disconnection and unreliable positioning in mind         Location-based 3D displays for outdoors such as the Augurscope

·         Collaborative virtual environments         Techniques for broadcasting interaction from within multi-user virtual worlds         Techniques for recording and reusing the action from within multi-user virtual worlds  

Demonstrating novel uses of these in areas such as:

·         Live performance         Working with artists to create touring performances, most notably a series of collaborations with the artists group Blast Theory ­ Desert Rain, Can You See Now and Uncle Roy All Around You- that have toured internationally since 1999

·         Play and learning, including         Mobile educational games         Tangible toys for young children         Using mobile sensors to learn about the environment

·         Television         The idea of ŒInhabited Televisionı in which viewers metaphorically step through the screen to become live participants in an online TV show that is then broadcast to a watching audience

·         Museums and exploratoria

        Interactive experiences in which visitors use a combination of mobile technologies and fixed installations to explore a site of special interest   And studying them in use so as to inform further technology development and draw out general design principles such as:

·       A framework for designing sensing based interfaces

·       A framework for designing the spectator view of an experience

·       Exploring the role of ambiguity in interface design

·       An exploration of persistence and change in the home

·       The spatial model of interaction for managing social interaction in collaborative virtual environment

·       A taxonomy of mixed reality boundaries for connecting virtual and physical spaces