Past Talks

This page contains details from past presentations.


Date: 20th of February

Talk by Dr Tom Flint

Title: An infrastructure for exploring the mixed reality continuum with children: Minecraft, Mixed Reality, and Jupiter Artland.


As mixed reality technology becomes ubiquitous the boundary between the digital and the real is increasingly blurred.  Our work involves creating a framework of experiences where we can afford transition across and within a continuum of realities.  Our first task was to recruit an extraordinary real world space and to this end we have worked in collaboration with Jupiter Artland. In order to ensure that each aspect of our framework was meaningful and relevant to children, we co-created each element with the same class of children over a period of three years. Our initial investigation involved building a virtual facsimile of the sculpture park in Minecraft which concentrated on contextual rather than faithful representation.  After constructing the virtual we developed a mixed reality game that was played simultaneously in the real world and on Minecraft. This game was then developed as a stand alone Android app.  We now have a foundational framework through which we can explore engagement with Jupiter Artland within and across a variety of realities.


Tom started as a BT apprentice. BT paid for him to undertake part time study and he gained a place at Royal Holloway University of London studying a BSc in Computer Science and Management Studies. During his final year at University Tom founded a publishing company which launched two titles, The Lock a guide for Camden and Sleaze Nation a youth culture and style guide magazine that is considered influential.
Tom spent much of the nineties launching digital projects that had short lives, DJing badly in the trendiest clubs in London and being a stereotypical Shoreditch type. He was eventually recruited by Urban Outfitters when they launched in Europe. He worked there for some time, started a family, left work and studied an MA in Digital Media at London Metropolitan University.
Tom has worked in higher education for over 15 years, his first job was teaching HTML to prisoners who had never seen the Web. Tom has a history of making and exhibiting bespoke electronic devices and experiences.  He has recently graduated from a PhD titled “Appropriating interaction.”


Date: Tuesday 6th of February 

Talk by Mary Ellen Foster

Title: Face-to-Face Conversation with Socially Intelligent Robots

When humans engage in face-to-face conversation, they use their voices, faces, and bodies together in a rich, multimodal, continuous, interactive process. For a robot to participate fully in this sort of natural, face-to-face conversation in the real world, it must also be able not only to understand the multimodal communicative signals of its human partners, but also to produce understandable, appropriate, and natural communicative signals in response. I will describe three recent projects which aim to develop robots that support this sort of conversation: the JAMES socially aware robot bartender, and the MuMMER socially intelligent shopping mall robot, and the SoCoRo training robot for adults with autism.

Dr Mary Ellen Foster is a Lecturer in the School of Computing Science at the University of Glasgow. Her primary research interests are human-robot interaction, social robotics, and embodied conversational agents. She is the coordinator of the MuMMER project, a European Horizon 2020 project in the area of socially aware human-robot interaction. She obtained her PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 2007, and has previously worked at the Technical University of Munich and Heriot-Watt University.


Date:  Tuesday 23rd of January

Title: User centred design in a children’s hospital setting:
challenges and ethical considerations

Speakers: Judy Robertson and Valentina Andries

Summary: In this talk we will describe our work on designing and
evaluating play technology at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in
Edinburgh. The hospital is being rebuilt and part of the plans for the
new building include new technology to support children’s play. We
will reflect on the challenges relating to including children in
research in this sensitive setting, as well as working with multiple
external stakeholders and enter discussion with the audience about the
ethical issues.

Judy Robertson is a Professor in the School of
Education and the Chair of Digital Learning. She is generally interested in methodologies for designing technology with and for children.

Valentina Andries is a PhD student in Education interested in technology for children and user centred approach.


Date:  Tuesday the 14th of November at 4-5 pm in Informatics Forum 

Title: Can People read URLs?

Speaker: Sara Albakry

Summary:  Phishing is one of the most common and expensive cyberattacks worldwide. Despite the effort to automatically detect and block known phishing communications, automated solutions are not fully accurate allowing undetected phishing communications to get through. Therefore, training people to avoid such communications is important.
Within the space of anti-phishing user training, a common advice given to people asks them to make sure that the URL they intend to click on will go to the company they want to visit. We theorize that people have difficulty parsing a URL and therefore can’t accurately predict where a URL could go. To test our theory, we ran an online experiment with 2013 participants from Amazon Mechanical Turk and Prolific Academic, combined; with the aim of answering the question: can people read URLs accurately in optimal conditions In this talk, I will explain the motivation behind this study, the design of the online experiment and preliminary results.


Date: Tuesday 28th of November

Reading group led by Danai Korre

Topic:  Embodied Conversational Agents (ECA)

A short introduction to the topic of ECAs while we tried to answer are some of the following questions:

  • Pros of ECAs
  • Cons of ECAs
  • Industries that use ECAs
  • Why ECAs are used
  • How ECAs are used/roles they have in the interaction.
  • Context of use.