Research

I have worked in a diverse range of topics within HCI including accessible technology, wearable devices, gesture interaction, interactive tabletops, home care and graph visualisation. This page gives an overview of my research in these areas.

Contents

Acoustic Levitation
Gesture Interaction
Wearables for Visually Impaired Children
Interactive Tabletops in the Home
Digital Pen and Paper Reminders
Visual Complexity
Graph Aesthetics

 

Acoustic Levitation

I currently work on the Levitate project, which is investigating new types of interaction with mid-air levitating objects.

 

Gesture Interaction

My PhD research focused on gesture interaction, including around-device interaction. Some of my early PhD work looked at above-device interaction with mobile phones [1, 2], which I discuss more here. Towards the end of my PhD I also studied gesture interaction with simple household devices, like thermostats and lights, which present interesting design problems due to their lack of screens or output capabilities [3].

I am particularly interested in how gesture interaction techniques can be improved with better feedback design. Whereas most gesture interfaces rely on visual feedback, I am more interested in non-visual modalities and how these can be used to help users interact more easily and effectively. I have looked at tactile feedback for gesture interfaces [1, 4]; this is a promising modality but requires novel hardware solutions to overcome the challenges of giving tactile feedback remotely. I have also looked at other types of output, including sound and interactive light, for giving feedback during gesture interaction. My PhD research in this area was partly funded by a studentship from Nokia Research in Finland.

Despite significant advances in gesture-sensing technology, there are some fundamental usability problems which we still need good solutions for. My PhD thesis focused on one of these problems in particular, the problem of addressing gesture systems. I write more about this here. My CHI 2016 paper [3] describes interaction techniques for addressing gesture systems.

Above-Device Gestures

Early in my PhD I looked at above-device gesture design. We asked users to create above-device gestures for some common mobile phone tasks. From the many gesture designs gathered in that study, we then created and evaluated two sets of gestures. We created design recommendations for good above-device interfaces based on the outcomes of these studies [2].

Tactile Feedback for Gestures

Small devices, like mobile phones and wearables, have limited display capabilities. Gesture interaction, being very uncertain for users, requires feedback to help users gesture effectively, but giving feedback visually on small devices constraints other content. Instead, other modalities – like sound and touch – could be used to give feedback. However, an obvious limitation with touch feedback is that users don’t always touch devices that they gesture towards. We looked at how we could give tactile feedback during gesture interaction, using ultrasound haptics and distal feedback from wearables [1].

Interactive Light Feedback for Gestures

Another way of giving visual feedback on small devices without taking away limited screen space is to give visual cues in the space surrounding the device instead. We embedded LEDs in the edge of some small devices so that they could illuminate surrounding table or wall surfaces, giving low fidelity – but effective – visual feedback about gestures. We call this interactive light feedback [5]. As well as keeping the screen free for interactive content, these interactive light cues were also noticeable from a short distance away. For more on this, see Interactive Light Feedback.

 

Wearables for Visually Impaired Children

I worked on the ABBI (Audio Bracelet for Blind Interaction) project for a year. The ABBI project developed a bracelet for young visually impaired children; when the bracelet moved, it synthesised sound in response to that movement. The primary purpose of the bracelet was for sensory rehabilitation activities to improve spatial cognition; by hearing how other people and themselves moved, the children would be able to improve their understanding of movement and their spatial awareness.

My research looked at how the capabilities of the ABBI bracelet could be used for other things. The bracelet had motion sensors, Bluetooth communication, on-board audio synthesis and limited processing power, so my research investigated how these might facilitate other interactions. Some of my work looked at how Bluetooth beacons could be used with a wearable device to present relevant audio cues about surroundings, to help visually impaired children understand what is happening nearby [6]. I also considered how the bracelet might be used to detect location and activity within the home, so that the lighting could be adapted to make it easier to see, or to draw attention to specific areas of the home [7].

 

Reminders: Tabletops and Digital Pens

Before starting my PhD I worked on two projects looking at home-care reminder systems for elderly people. Reminders can help people live independently by prompting them to do things, such as taking medication or making sure the heating is on, and helping them manage their lives, for example reminding them of upcoming appointments or tasks such as shopping.

Tabletops in the Home

My final undergraduate project looked at how interactive tabletops could be used to deliver reminders. People often have coffee tables in a prominent location within the living room, making the tabletop an ideal display for ambient information and reminders. We wanted to see what challenges had to be overcome in order for tabletops to be an effective reminder display. One of the interesting challenges this project addressed was how to use the tabletop as a display and as a normal table. Clutter meant large parts of the display were often occluded so a solution was needed to allow reminders to be placed in a noticeable location. Part of this project was presented as an extended abstract at CHI 2013 [8].

Digital Pen and Paper Reminders

After graduating with my undergraduate degree, I worked on the MultiMemoHome project as a research assistant. My role in the project was to design and develop a paper-based diary system for digital pens which let users schedule reminders using pen and paper. Reminders were then delivered using a tablet placed in the living room. We were interested in using a paper-based approach because this was an approach already favoured by elderly people. We used a co-design approach to create a reminder system, Rememo, which we then deployed in peoples’ homes for two weeks at a time. This project was presented as an extended abstract at CHI 2013 [9] and as a workshop paper at Mobile HCI 2014 [10].

 

Predicting Visual Complexity

As an undergraduate I received two scholarships to fund research over my summer holidays. One of these scholarships funded research with Helen Purchase into visual complexity. We wanted to find out if we could predict how complex visual content was using image processing techniques to examine images. We gathered both rankings and ratings of visual complexity using an online survey and used this information to construct a model using linear regression with a collection of image metrics as predictors. This project was presented at Diagrammatic Representation and Inference 2012 [11] and Predicting Perceptions 2012 [12].

 

Aesthetic Properties of Graphs

An earlier research scholarship also funded research with Helen Purchase, this time looking at aesthetic properties of hand-drawn graphs using SketchNode, a tool which lets users draw graphs using a stylus. We devised a series of aesthetic properties describing graph appearance and created algorithms to measure these properties. Aesthetic properties included features such as node orthogonality (were nodes placed in a grid-like manner?), edge length consistency (were edges of similar length?) and edge orthogonality (were edges largely perpendicular and arranged in a grid-like manner?). I produced a tool to analyse a large corpus of user-drawn graphs from earlier research studies.

References

[1] Tactile Feedback for Above-Device Gesture Interfaces: Adding Touch to Touchless Interactions
E. Freeman, S. Brewster, and V. Lantz.
In Proceedings of the International Conference on Multimodal Interaction – ICMI ’14, pp. 419-426. 2014.

 PDF       DOI       Website       Video      [Bibtex]

@inproceedings{ICMI2014,
    author = {Freeman, Euan and Brewster, Stephen and Lantz, Vuokko},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of the International Conference on Multimodal Interaction - ICMI '14},
    pages = {419--426},
    publisher = {ACM Press},
    title = {{Tactile Feedback for Above-Device Gesture Interfaces: Adding Touch to Touchless Interactions}},
    pdf = {http://research.euanfreeman.co.uk/papers/ICMI_2014.pdf},
    doi = {10.1145/2663204.2663280},
    year = {2014},
    url = {http://euanfreeman.co.uk/projects/above-device-tactile-feedback/},
    video = {{https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1TdnNBUFoc}},
}

[2] Towards Usable and Acceptable Above-Device Interactions
E. Freeman, S. Brewster, and V. Lantz.
In Mobile HCI ’14 Posters, pp. 459-464. 2014.

 PDF       DOI      [Bibtex]

@inproceedings{MobileHCI2014Poster,
  author = {Freeman, Euan and Brewster, Stephen and Lantz, Vuokko},
  booktitle = {Mobile HCI '14 Posters},
  pages = {459--464},
  title = {Towards Usable and Acceptable Above-Device Interactions},
  pdf = {http://research.euanfreeman.co.uk/papers/MobileHCI_2014_Poster.pdf},
  doi = {10.1145/2628363.2634215},
  year = {2014},
}

[3] Do That, There: An Interaction Technique for Addressing In-Air Gesture Systems
E. Freeman, S. Brewster, and V. Lantz.
In Proceedings of the 34th Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI ’16, pp. 2319-2331. 2016.

 PDF       DOI       Website       Video      [Bibtex]

@inproceedings{CHI2016,
    author = {Freeman, Euan and Brewster, Stephen and Lantz, Vuokko},
    booktitle = {{Proceedings of the 34th Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - CHI '16}},
    title = {{Do That, There: An Interaction Technique for Addressing In-Air Gesture Systems}},
    year = {2016},
    publisher = {ACM Press},
    pages = {2319--2331},
    doi = {10.1145/2858036.2858308},
  pdf = {http://research.euanfreeman.co.uk/papers/CHI_2016.pdf},
  url = {http://euanfreeman.co.uk/gestures/},
  video = {{https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_hGbI_SdQ4}},
}

[4] Towards Mid-Air Haptic Widgets
E. Freeman, D. Vo, G. Wilson, G. Shakeri, and S. Brewster.
In CHI 2016 Workshop on Mid-Air Haptics and Displays: Systems for Un-instrumented Mid-Air Interactions. 2016.

 PDF      [Bibtex]

@inproceedings{MidAirHapticsWorkshop,
    author = {Freeman, Euan and Vo, Dong-Bach  and Wilson, Graham and Shakeri, Gozel and Brewster, Stephen},
    booktitle = {CHI 2016 Workshop on Mid-Air Haptics and Displays: Systems for Un-instrumented Mid-Air Interactions},
    title = {{Towards Mid-Air Haptic Widgets}},
    year = {2016},
    pdf = {http://research.euanfreeman.co.uk/papers/MidAirHaptics.pdf},
}

[5] Illuminating Gesture Interfaces with Interactive Light Feedback
E. Freeman, S. Brewster, and V. Lantz.
In Proceedings of NordiCHI ’14 Beyond the Switch Workshop. 2014.

 PDF       Website      [Bibtex]

@inproceedings{NordiCHI2014Workshop,
    author = {Freeman, Euan and Brewster, Stephen and Lantz, Vuokko},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of NordiCHI '14 Beyond the Switch Workshop},
    title = {{Illuminating Gesture Interfaces with Interactive Light Feedback}},
    year = {2014},
  pdf = {http://lightingworkshop.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/3-illuminating-gesture-interfaces-with-interactive-light-feedback.pdf},
  url = {http://euanfreeman.co.uk/interactive-light-feedback/},
}

[6] Audible Beacons and Wearables in Schools: Helping Young Visually Impaired Children Play and Move Independently
E. Freeman, G. Wilson, S. Brewster, G. Baud-Bovy, C. Magnusson, and H. Caltenco.
In Proceedings of the 35th Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI ’17, pp. 4146-4157. 2017.

 PDF       DOI       Website       Video      [Bibtex]

@inproceedings{CHI2017,
    author = {Freeman, Euan and Wilson, Graham and Brewster, Stephen and Baud-Bovy, Gabriel and Magnusson, Charlotte and Caltenco, Hector},
    booktitle = {{Proceedings of the 35th Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - CHI '17}},
    title = {{Audible Beacons and Wearables in Schools: Helping Young Visually Impaired Children Play and Move Independently}},
    year = {2017},
    publisher = {ACM Press},
    pages = {4146--4157},
    doi = {10.1145/3025453.3025518},
  url = {http://euanfreeman.co.uk/research/#abbi},
  video = {{https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGQmt1NeAGQ}},
  pdf = {http://research.euanfreeman.co.uk/papers/CHI_2017.pdf},
}

[7] Towards a Multimodal Adaptive Lighting System for Visually Impaired Children
E. Freeman, G. Wilson, and S. Brewster.
In Proceedings of the 18th ACM International Conference on Multimodal Interaction – ICMI ’16, pp. 398-399. 2016.

 PDF       DOI      [Bibtex]

@inproceedings{ICMI2016Demo1,
  author = {Freeman, Euan and Wilson, Graham and Brewster, Stephen},
  booktitle = {{Proceedings of the 18th ACM International Conference on Multimodal Interaction - ICMI '16}},
  title = {{Towards a Multimodal Adaptive Lighting System for Visually Impaired Children}},
  year = {2016},
  publisher = {ACM Press},
  pages = {398--399},
  doi = {10.1145/2993148.2998521},
  pdf = {http://research.euanfreeman.co.uk/papers/ICMI_2016.pdf},
}

[8] Messy Tabletops: Clearing Up the Occlusion Problem
E. Freeman and S. Brewster.
In CHI ’13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 1515-1520. 2013.

 PDF       DOI       Website       Video      [Bibtex]

@inproceedings{CHI2013LBW1,
  author = {Freeman, Euan and Brewster, Stephen},
  booktitle = {CHI '13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems},
  pages = {1515--1520},
  title = {Messy Tabletops: Clearing Up the Occlusion Problem},
  pdf = {http://dl.acm.org/authorize?6811198},
  doi = {10.1145/2468356.2468627},
  year = {2013},
   url = {http://euanfreeman.co.uk/projects/occlusion-management/},
   video = {https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V42GYxnHkEk},
}

[9] Designing a Smartpen Reminder System for Older Adults
J. Williamson, M. McGee-Lennon, E. Freeman, and S. Brewster.
In CHI ’13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 73-78. 2013.

 PDF       DOI      [Bibtex]

@inproceedings{CHI2013LBW2,
  author = {Williamson, Julie and McGee-Lennon, Marilyn and Freeman, Euan and Brewster, Stephen},
  booktitle = {CHI '13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems},
  pages = {73--78},
  title = {Designing a Smartpen Reminder System for Older Adults},
  pdf = {http://dl.acm.org/authorize?6811896},
  doi = {10.1145/2468356.2468371},
  year = {2013},
}

[10] Rememo: Designing a Multimodal Mobile Reminder App with and for Older Adults
M. Lennon, G. Hamilton, E. Freeman, and J. Williamson.
In Mobile HCI ’14 Workshop on Re-imagining Commonly Used Mobile Interfaces for Older Adults. 2014.

 Website      [Bibtex]

@inproceedings{MobileHCI2014Workshop,
    author = {Lennon, Marilyn and Hamilton, Greig and Freeman, Euan and Williamson, Julie},
    booktitle = {Mobile HCI '14 Workshop on Re-imagining Commonly Used Mobile Interfaces for Older Adults},
    publisher = {ACM Press},
    title = {{Rememo: Designing a Multimodal Mobile Reminder App with and for Older Adults}},
    year = {2014},
    url = {http://olderadultsmobileinterfaces.wordpress.com/},
}

[11] An Exploration of Visual Complexity
H. C. Purchase, E. Freeman, and J. Hamer.
In Diagrammatic Representation and Inference, pp. 200-213. 2012.

 PDF       DOI      [Bibtex]

@inproceedings{Diagrams2012,
  author = {Purchase, Helen C. and Freeman, Euan and Hamer, John},
  booktitle = {Diagrammatic Representation and Inference},
  doi = {10.1007/978-3-642-31223-6_22},
  isbn = {978-3-642-31222-9},
  pages = {200--213},
  title = {An Exploration of Visual Complexity},
  pdf = {http://www.springerlink.com/index/G647230842J38T43.pdf},
  year = {2012},
}

[12] Predicting Visual Complexity
H. C. Purchase, E. Freeman, and J. Hamer.
In Predicting Perceptions: The 3rd International Conference on Appearance., pp. 62-65. 2012.

 PDF      [Bibtex]

@inproceedings{Perceptions2012,
  author = {Purchase, Helen C. and Freeman, Euan and Hamer, John},
  booktitle = {Predicting Perceptions: The 3rd International Conference on Appearance.},
  isbn = {9781471668692},
  pages = {62--65},
  title = {Predicting Visual Complexity},
  pdf = {http://opendepot.org/1060/},
  year = {2012},
}