Masters projects

Here is a collection of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research projects and software development projects proposed by researchers in the Human-Computer Interaction. These projects are available to all masters students and especially relevant to students undertaking the HCI stream of the Master of Information Technology. For more details about a particular project, students should contact supervisors directly.

Mobile sensing and instrumentation

Supervisors: Zhanna Sarsenbayeva

  • Community’s mood assessment: analysis of surveillance data

    This project explores if a community’s mood can be determined from its walking speed. It has previously been shown that individual’s emotional state could be determined from their gait (body posture, movement features, etc). The idea of this project is to determine a community’s mood from walking speed of its members, and to link it to local, semi-local and global events.

    You will be required to work with an open source project developed by researchers from CMU called Openpose. You will need to analyse surveillance videos using the provided tool.

    This project is focused on data analysis.

    Required/recommended skills: Programming (R, C#); Strong statistical and analytical skills; Independent decision-making

  • A mobile app (Android or iOS) that enables hands-free interaction

    Secondary supervisor: Tilman Dingler

    In this project you will be required to create an app (can be a mobile game) for a smartphone (Android or iOS) that enables hands-free interaction with a mobile device. You can use eye-gaze, facial expressions, air-gestures or a mobile

    You might need to use external libraries to accomplish the objective of the project, eg:
    https://opencv.org/
    https://github.com/elucideye/drishti
    https://github.com/Pradyuman7/TrackEyes
    https://github.com/topics/affectiva-emotion-api

    This project is focused on mobile application development and the ability to use built-in sensors of mobile devices (accelerometer, camera, gyroscope).

    Required/recommended skills: Programming; Independent decision-making

  • Mood inference literature review

    Secondary supervisor: Benjamin Tag

    You are required to do an extensive literature review on mood inference. Mental wellbeing plays a profound role in people’s health and quality of life. Mood tracking using various technologies is an active research topic. A core challenge is how to accurately and reliably measure mood data with the help of various technology in-the-wild. The goal of the project is to create a thorough and detailed literature review on mood inference in-the-wild. The literature review should provide a detailed summary of all previous related research on the topic, highlighting their strength and weakness.

    Required/recommended skills: Strong writing skills; The ability to synthesise concepts from the literature; Interest in the research topic; Independent decision-making

  • Sentiment analysis of Facebook data

    You are required to do an extensive sentiment analysis of Facebook data. The data is available for research purposes from https://dataforgood.fb.com/

    The sentiment analysis can be linked to global Covid-19 pandemic, and you can analyse different types of data including but not limited to people’s movements, symptom surveys, social connectedness, etc. This project could let us all learn about the change in human behaviour, social life depending on the world events (eg, Covid-19 outbreak).

    Required/recommended skills: Independent decision-making; Strong data analysis skills, knowledge of scripting and programming languages used for data analysis (R, python), strong writing skills, critical thinking

  • Emoji analysis of Twitter data

    You are required to do an extensive emoji analysis of the tweets and see if there is a trend or specific emoji language related with the world events.

    This analysis can be linked to global Covid-19 pandemic or any other events from the past, and you can identify trends related to people’s movements, social connectedness, etc. This project could let us all learn about the change in the development of emoji language depending on the world events (eg, Covid-19 outbreak).

    Required/recommended skills: Independent decision-making; Strong data analysis skills, knowledge of scripting and programming languages used for data analysis (R, python), strong writing skills, critical thinking

The UX Project Sprint

Supervisors: Eduardo Velloso and Jarrod Knibbe

  • The UX Project Sprint

    Are you interested in one day deploying your HCI knowledge as a well-paid industry practitioner? Do you want to develop UX project experience for your CV? Are you keen to better understand how UX projects work? Come and do a UX industry research project.

    Take what you have learned about fieldwork, design, and evaluation, and apply it in a hands-on UX project. You will be given a project specification for a fictional client. You will be responsible for identifying and learning about your potential users, exploring a range of design opportunities, and evaluating the success of your ideas. Along the way, you will be producing relevant deliverables that support your project, communicate your ideas, and demonstrate your new skills. At the end of the project, you will produce a portfolio of your work that you can use when applying for jobs. You'll be working on your own, responsible for planning and executing your own project, and demonstrating your own knowledge. The whole project will run online, including data capturing, design, and evaluations.

    From a fictional brief, you will need to deconstruct and understand the scope of a client's idea. You will need to identify who their potential users are, how they currently solve similar problems, and what their expectations, challenges, and frustrations are. You'll need to use online data collection skills to capture the nuance of your different users and develop high-level requirements for the project. Next, you'll need to translate these requirements into initial sketches and subsequent high-fidelity prototypes (using industry standard tools). These prototypes will need to demonstrate how your ideas work and communicate the experience your users should expect. Finally, you'll return back online for usability evaluations, working with users to understand the successes and limitations of your design ideas. The deliverables you develop throughout this project, will form the foundations for your portfolio, where you concisely present your work, your learnings, and your reflections, to convince future employers that they should hire you.

Digital boardgames

Supervisor: Melissa Rogerson

  • Granularity in Digitised Boardgames

    Digital versions of physical boardgames are increasingly common, however they lack the materiality that players value. In particular, digitised games typically represent resources, money and scores as numbers rather than as objects that can be manipulated and used for planning. In this project, you will build and evaluate a digitised version of a physical boardgame that allows players to manipulate resources and money as separate, granular objects and to create, modify, and implement plans for future actions.

    Expected background: User interface design and implementation, interest in games.

  • Evaluating Hybrid Digital Boardgames

    An increasing number of commercial boardgames integrate digital technologies to create “hybrid” games that unite the physical game with a digital app. More than 65 such games have been released in the past three years alone. In this project, you will conduct a design review and evaluation of one or more hybrid digital boardgames, considering the core functions of the digital tool and their effects on the user experience.

    Expected background: Interest in games, strong participant observation and interviewing/contextual inquiry skills, coding qualitative data.

Digital Games and Communities

Supervisors: Martin Gibbs, Fraser Allison

  • Smart Speaker Game Design

    Smart speaker devices such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home have popularised a novel form of interaction that involves only audio input and output, with no screen (although external props can sometimes be used). They are often used in a busy part of the home, such as the kitchen or living room. A variety of game genres have emerged on these platforms to try to make voice interaction fun and engaging. However, this format has limits compared to screen-based interaction and can be challenging to design.
    In this project, you will either:

    • Build and evaluate an audio-only game for a smart speaker platform, taking into account design principles for voice interaction based on prior literature
    • Conduct a design review and evaluation of one or more existing smart speaker games, with consideration of the core functionality and the user experience of playing in a domestic multi-person context

    Expected background: Interest in game design and smart speakers. Strong participant observation and interviewing or contextual inquiry skills; and/or user interface design and implementation skills. Experience with smart speaker app development may be beneficial.

  • Gaming Communities and Commemoration

    Videogames have been used to explore death and grief in meaningful, playful and powerful ways. As games have increasingly become an everyday digital media, core to people’s lives, they become sites of commemoration and mourning. Games with strong player communities like Animal Crossing, World of Warcraft and EVE Online are now filled with player and developer created monuments to the departed, and communities often gather within the game for mourning rituals.
     In this project, you will investigate how gaming communities use social and media, and the game itself, for the expression of grief, mourning and commemoration. Possible case studies for the exploration of this topic include:

    • The creation of personal memorials in Animal Crossing
    • The enormous community response to the recent death of the Reckful, a popular World of Warcraft streamer
    • The “last battle” of Christopher “Chappy78” Chapman in EVE Online following his diagnosis of cancer
    • Responses to a videogames about dying such as That Dragon, Cancer

     Expected background: You should have an interest in social media and the practices and cultures of videogame communities, and an interest in pursuing qualitative case study research. The ability to conduct social media scraping and content analysis may also be beneficial.

Understanding community participation

Supervisors: Melissa Rogerson, Martin Gibbs, Wally Smith

  • Supporting hobbies and community participation in the digital hinterlands

    Engagement with traditionally ‘offline’ hobbies and activities such as knitting, reading and playing boardgames is, increasingly, informed by online activity. In this project, you will examine and explore the “digital hinterlands” that surround an offline activity. You will consider how online activity supports, constrains, and directs participation in both online and offline communities, and the ways in which enthusiasts demonstrate their participation. You might also consider how particular groups (eg, parents) use digital technologies to engage with an offline hobby.

    Example topics include boardgame “Shelfies”, home brewing, painting miniature gaming figures, collecting (eg, handbags, brooches, beauty products), and writing fiction.

    Expected background: Interest in the topic, strong research ability, coding qualitative data.

Cultural experiences

Supervisor: Niels Wouters

  • Science Gallery glass bricks: an interactive facade

    This project entails the development of an interactive web application for Science Gallery Melbourne’s interactive building facade. You will work alongside Science Gallery’s programs, engagement and research team to propose a content piece for an upcoming show which theme focuses on big data and algorithms. The interactive facade is brand new and currently unbuilt.

    Expected background: This project can have either a theoretical or practical focus. The focus will be set upon expression of interest.

  • Immersion in cultural experiences: current practices and concerns

    Technology increasingly influences the ways in which we experience cultural visits. Some museums now provide visitor-facing apps, theatres invite participation through gestures, and some galleries go as far as providing wearable technology to their audiences. These developments enable unique forms of immersion in the experience but also raise important questions about privacy and transparency. This project aims to provide a thorough and structured survey of global emerging practices and their ethical implications. The work builds upon research currently being done at Science Gallery Melbourne, and there are opportunities to align the research with the ongoing construction and development process of the gallery space. There is an opportunity to work closely with the Science Gallery team. The work should provide a detailed overview of relevant cases and approaches relating to the topic, highlighting their strengths, weaknesses, concerns and opportunities. We are particularly interested in a thorough analysis of the projects’ ethical implications and possible responses to address and mitigate concerns.

    Expected background: Qualitative data collection and analysis methods, strong writing skills, interest in the topic (culture and ethics).

Crowd and mobile sensing

Supervisor: Jorge Goncalves

  • Investigating the effect of conformity on the perceived trustworthiness of news in social media

    People tend to derive personal opinions on online news articles based on comments posted by previous readers. This study investigates how user comments appearing underneath a news article posted on Facebook could trigger conformity (the act of adjusting personal opinions to agree with the majority) in how subsequent readers perceive article’s trustworthiness and respond to them (by liking, commenting, sharing, reporting the news article on Facebook). Findings of this study is expected to contribute towards our understanding on how conformity behaviour affects the dispersion of fake and genuine news articles in social media.

    Relevant literature: Colliander, Jonas. ‘“This is fake news”: Investigating the role of conformity to other users’ views when commenting on and spreading disinformation in social media.’ Computers in Human Behavior 97 (2019): 202–215.

    You are required to:

    1. Create a collection of fake and genuine news articles recently shared on social media along with the user comments posted on them.
    2. Develop a web application to collect data from participants. The application should repeat the following steps for each news article:
      1. Display the article without user comments, and collect how users perceive its trustworthiness and respond to it.
      2. Display user comments underneath the news article.
      3. Collect how users perceive the article's trustworthiness and respond to it after seeing user comments.
    3. Analyse the collected data to determine whether and why users conform to the majority's perception of an article's trustworthiness reflected via user comments.
    4. Discuss implications of your findings on how news articles disseminate in social media.

    In addition to the above requirements you may be requested to:

    1. Refer to existing literature to support design decisions of the study.

    2. Conduct pilot studies to test and refine the developed application.

    Expected background

    • Required: Experience in JavaScript and basic software development, critical analysis of the relevant literature.
    • Beneficial: Experience in designing and conducting user studies (online or offline).
  • Object selection in VR

    One of the most common tasks in current interactive virtual reality (VR) systems is object selection. However, existing techniques typically suffer when targets are small or clustered together (for example, in 3D data visualizations). Researchers recently proposed a new technique that is promising for acquiring such targets efficiently. The project aims to optimize this latest technique and run a series of experiments to evaluate its performance.

    Expected background: C# programming, experience with interface development, proficiency with statistics and experiment design.

  • Raspberry Pi BLE Beacon Scanner

    This project entails developing software for Raspberry Pi that is able to scan the surrounding area for nearby BLE iBeacons. Information about scanned Bluetooth devices should then be stored locally, and sent to a server at certain intervals.

    Expected background: Programming (Python, Database Management), some knowledge of bash scripting.

  • Improving data visualisation through crowdsourcing

    Effective data visualization is vital in both business and scientific communities. Although a great variety of tools are available which allow people to create rich illustrations, often people fail to select suitable visualization methods and parameters, resulting in loss of information or misinterpretation. This project aims to address this issue and help users create better visualizations through insights provided by crowdworkers. In this project, you will develop a web application that will generate basic graphical visualizations and allow users to change its appearance based on parameters such as chart type, colour scheme, label size etc. The application will be connected to a crowdsourcing platform and the different preferences provided by crowdworkers will be used to decide on the optimum parameters for each chart. It is important to keep the design simple so that any amateur user is able to interact. The scope of this project is limited to developing the application and demonstrating its applicability. However, if the student is comfortable, it could be expanded to analyse the importance/impact of various parameters.

    Preferred background: Required: Programming skills (Python, JavaScript or R); Recommended: Experience with data visualization using packages/libraries such as matplotlib, D3.js or ggplot

  • Voice-based crowdsourcing system

    This project involves the development of a voice-based crowdsourcing system using either an Alexa or a Google Home. It will include the implementation of tasks that are suitable to be completed using voice input, as well as the communication workflow between the user and the smart speaker. A user study should be conducted to evaluate the reliability of the system to complete voice-based crowdsourcing tasks.

  • Investigating conformity in online chatting environments

    Social conformity is a widely seen social phenomena which results in individuals changing their own opinions and judgements to agree with a contradicting group majorities. This project explores manifestations of social conformity in an online chatting environment.

    You are required to:

    1. Create a channel on Slack (https://slack.com/) connecting a group of participants to answer a series of multiple-choice questions (MCQ).
    2. Develop a chatbot on the Slack platform to control the flow of questions throughout the quiz.
    3. Allow participants to answer the questions privately, display results to the group and facilitate discussion among participants through the channel.
    4. Allow participants to change their initial answer if needed.
    In addition to the above technical requirements you may be requested to,

    1. Refer to existing literature to support design decisions of the study.
    2. Conduct pilot studies to test and refine the developed application.

    Expected background

    • Required: Experience in JavaScript and basic software development, critical analysis of the relevant literature.
    • Beneficial: Experience in the Slack API, designing and conducting user studies.

Smartphones for science

Supervisor: Vassilis Kostakos

  • Web Application for Creating Smartphone Studies

    This work will contribute to a global open-source project led by the University of Melbourne (https://awareframework.com/). The overall project aims to make it easy to conduct experiments using smartphones, and to collect sensor data from smartphones. Your role will be to improve an existing website written in Javascript/NodeJS. The website is used by scientists to define the experiments they want to conduct. It allows scientists to define questionnaires, and define which sensor values trigger certain questionnaires on the phone (eg: launch a questionnaire whenever the user runs the Facebook app). You will only work on the front-end, making sure that the website is usable and stable. Your work will help a variety of scientists who are using this tool, including medical doctors, psychologists, epidemiologists, sociologists, education experts, and computer scientists.

    Expected background: Javascript/NodeJS, Databases, scripting and data wrangling, ability to conduct interviews.
    Preferred background: Usability engineering, CSS, interaction design.

  • Visualisation Dashboard for Smartphone sensor data

    This work will contribute to a global open-source project led by the University of Melbourne (http://www.awareframework.com). The overall project aims to make it easy to conduct experiments using smartphones, and to collect sensor data from smartphones. Your role will be to develop an application using R Shiny Dashboard to visualise smartphone sensor data stored in a MySQL server. You will work closely with scientists to identify the requirements for the visualisation tool. Then, you will implement the tool to visualise the sensor data in a way that is suitable for scientists. Your work will help a variety of scientists who are using this tool, including medical doctors, psychologists, epidemiologists, sociologists, education experts, and computer scientists.

    Expected background: Databases, scripting and data wrangling, some statistical or numerical analysis, ability to conduct interviews.
    Preferred background: Knowledge of R and Shiny Dashboard is preferred but not necessary.

  • Android Visualisation App for Smartphone Sensor Data

    This project involves the creation and evaluation of two small applications. Both applications will be evaluated, asking participants a set of questions throughout the day for a period of 2 weeks. The first application is a chat bot (e.g., Facebook messenger). The bot is configured to ask participants a set of questions at predefined timeslots through the chat application installed on participants phones. The second application is a native Android application, running in the background of the participants phones. The application will ask the same set of questions at predefined timeslots, but instead through the native Android or iOS application. Following a user study, you will compare the results of both applications. Interesting questions are for example: what is the difference in response time between the bot and the Android/iOS application, how many questions went unanswered between the bot and the application, etc. In order to answer these questions, you will need to store all relevant information (eg, in an online database).

    Expected background: Programming mobile applications, Collecting and storing data in databases, Previous experience in programming chatbot is beneficial but not required, Previous experience in conducting user studies is beneficial but not required.

Ageing and technology

Supervisor: Jenny Waycott, Charlynn Miller and Steven Baker

  • Digital literacy in later life

    In the last decade, many community centres have been running programs that are designed to help older people feel confident about using new technologies (eg, “iPads for seniors courses” at local libraries). However, there is limited understanding about how these programs work and whether they are designed to meet the needs and interests of older adults. Students working on this project can do one of the following: 1) review the current research about digital literacy programs for older adults and write a report identifying what makes these programs effective, or 2) review websites and magazine articles describing the different digital literacy programs that are available in Australia and evaluate how well the programs are designed to meet the needs of older adults.

    Expected background: Strong writing skills, interest in the topic, critical thinking skills.

  • Virtual reality in aged care

    Virtual reality is now being used in many aged care facilities to allow older people to virtually travel to places they can no longer visit, to foster reminiscence, and to provide calming experiences for people living with dementia. However, there is limited scholarly research examining the opportunities and challenges associated with deploying virtual reality in aged care settings. Students who work on this masters project can do one of the following activities: 1) review the current research about the design and use of virtual reality in aged care and write a report about the benefits and challenges identified: 2) review virtual reality applications that are targeted at older adults and evaluate how they are designed to provide enrichment or foster wellbeing in old age; 3) review current research about technologies that are designed to provoke reminiscence; or 4) conduct observations of VR sessions in an aged care facility and identify the challenges involved in using VR in this setting (subject to ethics approval).

    Expected background: Strong writing skills, interest in the topic, critical thinking skills, and knowledge of qualitative data collection and analysis methods (preferably completion of INFO90006 Fieldwork for Design).

  • The design and use of social robots as companions for older adults

    Social robots and robotic pets (eg, Paro the seal) are now being used to provide companionship for people in advanced old age. The University has a set of NAO and Miro robots that can be programmed to do different activities and could be used in the future as companion robots. Students working on this project will explore how these robots can be used to do activities that could provide support for older people. The project will involve: a) investigating the types of activities that the robots could do, b) developing software that enables the robot to do a new activity that serves an identified need, and c) conducting a brief evaluation of the developed program. This project would suit students who have strong programming skills (esp. Python) and are confident about developing software with limited guidance. The project can be conducted in a small group (2 or 3 students).

    Students working on this project can do one of the following:

    • Develop a research project that determines the attitudes of older people towards the use of assistance robots
    • Undertake a project to program a robot to interact with a group of older people
    • Develop a research project that determines the attitudes of older people towards the use of technologies for ageing in place (at home)

    Expected background: Strong writing skills, interest in the topic, strong Python programming skills.

  • What are the most effective technologies for older people?

    Supervisor: Charlynn Miller

    As the number of older people (>75) in Australia, and across the world increases rapidly over the next twenty years, the expectations of these older people using technologies to increase cognitive capabilities and reduce isolation becomes a stronger need in society. However, older people are in the segment of the population that are least able to uptake new technologies, as they have not used them over their earlier life at same level as younger persons. The need for technology use in day-to-day life, as well as the impact of technology use for productivity, communication and leisure means that it is an imperative to determine the technologies that most pertain to and are taken up by older adults.

    Students working on this project can do one of the following:

    • A literature review of the research about what technologies older people are currently using to decrease isolation
    • A literature review of the research about what technologies older people are currently using to increase interaction
    • A review of the current technologies that have been or are being developed specifically for older adults

Supporting learning and enhancing information processing capabilities

Supervisor: Tilman Dingler

  • A mobile learning app using peer pressure

    Type of project: System Development / User Study

    Description: Learning a foreign language is a daunting and time-consuming task. People often lack the time or motivation to engage with learning content regularly. Mobile phones allow us to complete so-called microlearning sessions throughout the day. Learning reminders can be sent via notifications but may end up overburdening the user and subsequently be ignored. In this project, we investigate the mechanism of real-time peer-support to help users motivate each other. Just like fitness trackers tend to allow users to share their results in their social networks, peer recognition may be an effective way of prompting users to engage with learning units.

    Outcome: This project entails the creation of a mobile phone app for second language learning, which allows users to pair up and send real-time reminders to each other whenever one user is actively using the app. The learning app itself is already in place, so this project will focus on the implementation of the peer feature through real- time exchange of app states between members of a learning group. We will conduct a user study measuring the effectiveness of this peer awareness compared to regular reminders through notifications.

    Requirements: Experience with mobile Android app development.

  • An educational learning platform for conversational agents

    Type of project: System Development

    Description: With the proliferation of Amazon Echo and Google Home text and voice-based conversational user interfaces have become pervasive on a consumer level. While mostly used for performing simple tasks, such as setting alarms, playing music, or requesting news, these platforms’ potential for educational content has barely been explored. This project entails the design and development of a learning platform through which educational content, such as lecture slides or second language material, can be effectively delivered via chatbots and voice assistants. The following questions shall guide the conceptual design:

    1. How to create (customise, serve, organise) educational content for conversational agents?
    2. How effective are learning sessions through conversational agents?
    3. How to utilise a network of agents to deliver learning contents best? Can we create a standardised format (eg, see RSS) that can be attached to online class material, which pipes audio lessons directly into a voice assistant feed?

    Outcome: A learning platform through which educational content can be served via web-based chatbots and platform- specific voice assistants (Google Home or Amazon Echo).

    Requirements: Experience with web technologies, including HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Experience with backend programming, preferably with Python. This project entails programming a skill for Alexa (or Google Home), prior experience with web APIs is a plus.

  • Novel reading interfaces for ubiquitous computing devices

    Type of project: System Development / User Studies

    Description: Reading is one of the most common and prominent ways to acquire knowledge but is also taken up as a leisure activity. While text tends to lead a rather static life on paper pages and screens, digital devices allow us to adapt the reading experience according to contextual factors, such as the text content, readers’ intention, underlying mood, etc. This type of user and context awareness allows for adjustable reading interfaces and controls to support two fundamentally different types of reading activities: 1) shallow reading—skimming through information to quickly filter its essence—and 2) deep reading—a more profound engagement with text. While shallow reading helps us deal with the sheer volume of daily information, deep reading creates empathy with characters and allows us to reflect on content critically. Depending on context and content, ubiquitous computing systems need to support either type. In this project, we design and implement prototypes that accommodate these reading activities by helping users effectively deal with their reading volume and enhance their information processing capabilities.

    Outcome: Building prototypes on ubiquitous computing devices, including web, phones, watches, glasses, or VR devices. This project is focused on the design and implementation of reading applications, which can be showcased and evaluated in a subsequent user study.

    Requirements: Programming experiences in one of the target platforms: Android, iOS, or Unity.

  • Survey of Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) in HCI

    Type of project: Literature review

    Description: Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) is an experimental model for examining temporal characteristics of attention. Visual cues are thereby presented at a single focal place. Instead of requiring users to move their focus point to see further content, the visual cue is exchanged, which eliminates the need for saccadic eye movements. Reading via RSVP has recently gained considerable attention through commercial applications, such as Spritz (www.spritz.com). RSVP for text presents words sequentially. As it requires screens to present only single words, this presentation technique is especially promising when screen real-estate is limited.

    This literature review aims at collating and analysing works on RSVP in the context of human-computer interaction (HCI). While a number of previous studies have examined reading as an interesting use case for RSVP, including on phones, watches, and head-mounted displays, this survey will systematically surface challenges and opportunities for the use of RSVP in computing systems.

    Outcome: This literature review will collate the theoretical underpinnings of RSVP with its broader use in ubiquitous computing systems.

    Requirements: Strong research and writing skills.

  • Survey of detecting and utilising cognitive biases in media and computing systems

    Type of project: Literature review

    Description: Serious concerns have been raised about algorithms and social computing systems manipulating opinion and decision making, and their suspected contribution to the creation of so-called echo chambers as well as the spread of disinformation. Only recently, researchers have started investigating the unintended consequences of such systems. By optimising recommendation systems, for example, around the contents’ ‘stickiness’ and keeping users’ attention, these algorithms tend to reinforce people’s biases and subsequently contribute to increasing polarisation. Biases can be present in users, systems and their contents. With HCI being at the forefront of designing and developing user-facing computing systems, the discipline bears special responsibility for increasing awareness of potential issues and working on solutions to mitigate problems arising from both intentional and unintentional effects of cognitive biases.

    Outcome: This literature review will collate the theoretical underpinnings of cognitive biases with current media and computing systems, including how these biases are utilised, reinforced, and mitigated.

    Requirements: Strong research and writing skills.

Hospital in the home

Supervisor: Tilman Dingler

  • Remote patient monitoring through ubiquitous technologies

    Type of Project: System Development

    Description: Hospital patients often receive treatment over an extended amount of time during which they need to be monitored. When discharged from the hospital early, nurses are required to make house visits over multiple weeks to check on the patient’s condition. In this project, we develop technology solutions for monitoring the vitals of remote patients with the goal of reducing the overall amount of patient visits while maintaining the relationship between patients and caretakers. Technologies include wearable sensors for continuous data collection as well as camera-based systems, including thermal cameras, for dedicated check-ins with caretakers.

    Outcome: Building a platform for integrating wearable sensor data in one central dashboard. Alternatively, single projects could focus on the data acquisition from thermal cameras with an attempt to read the temperature of different facial areas up to determining the patient’s core body temperature.

    Requirements: Programming experiences in one of the target platforms: Android, iOS, or embedded systems.

Libraries

Supervisor: George Buchanan

  • Analysing BookCrossing data

    BookCrossing is a platform for exchanging books in public places : books are left in places where they can be found and readers record which books they read. After a book is read, it should be left in another place to be discovered by other readers. There is publicly available data from 2004 on when and where books were read. This can be cross-referenced with library data, e.g. data from an organization called OCLC, to understand patterns of reading and use of the bookcrossing books. Would suit a 25 or potentially 50 credit project.

    Expected background: Data analysis, quantitative evaluation, scripting.

  • Developing a virtual bookshelf

    Virtual bookshelves reproduce books on library or study bookshelves, with an image of a shelf filled with books. There are some previous ones, but now it is possible to create one from everyday components. The aim would be to develop an interactive virtual shelf using Amazon book cover data and other features of the Amazon API. Would suit a 25-credit project.

    Expected background: Good coding experience on e.g. C#, Objective C or Java; relevant GUI programming knowledge.

  • Ebook vs Print Book Usage

    There are various sets of data on ebook and print book usage from public and university libraries that are readily available. We don’t understood is what the differences in use between print and electronic book collections are. If we did, we could better understand shifts in general behaviour, and plan for future needs. In this project you will analyse some of the data to describe the differences and refer to the literature to understand what the consequences of your findings are. Could be a 25 or, ideally, a 50 credit project.

    Expected background: Quantitative evaluation, data analysis, scripting.

Face analysis

Supervisor: Niels Wouters

  • Understanding public perception towards artificial intelligence

    In this project, we investigate personal attitudes towards surveillance, facial detection and analysis technology in public space. The overall project aims to employ machine learning models that can distinguish personal information from publicly available data. The project entails the development of a front-end and back-end of a public website that integrates our machine learning models (via API), that provides public access to their output, and that captures public response. There is flexibility regarding the specific direction of the work that takes place. Indicative directions include: (1) Improve and expand the accuracy of an existing suite of machine learning models. These models distinguish personality traits from a single facial photo. (2) Explore and propose the integration of additional (public) datasets within an existing suite of machine learning models, and develop novel, interactive interfaces that display these data in public space. (3) Integrate interaction techniques from other SocialNUI/IDL projects (e.g. gaze) to inform the design of interactive interfaces that display output from the machine learning models in public space. (4) The first stage of this project entails the development of an interactive website that replicates our existing suite of machine learning models. Following the development, you will extend the suite with machine learning models for one or more additional datasets and integrate the functionality within the website. In the third stage, you will run a user study with a group of students or in a crowdsourcing environment, analyze feedback, and discuss results in a report.

    Expected background: Ability to conduct user studies, Knowledge of machine learning/AI, Programming (C#, web platforms, Rest APIs), Strong analytical skills, Independent decision-making.

Human and AI interactions

Supervisor: Wally Smith

  • Deceptive Computing

    Computers are increasingly being used to influence people (e.g. the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica events) and future AI will likely have the ability to reason about how human's think and may be able to deceive people. In this project, you will conduct a review of current deceptive uses of computing, and/or will conduct an experiment to discover how people react to deceptive machines.

    Expected background: Ability to review literature; ability to conduct experiments with human users.

Technology and emotion

Supervisor: Greg Wadley

  • Using Technology For Emotion Regulation

    This project investigates how people use digital technologies to shape their emotional states. For example, listening to music can powerfully impact a listener's emotions, and it has long been known that people use music to regulate their emotional states. Recent digital platforms extend and refine this power by making an almost-unlimited selection of content ubiquitously available. This project will investigate how, where, when and why people use technologies to shape moods and emotions in daily life. You will use "in the wild" HCI methods such as interviews, diaries and experience sampling, as well as psychological measures, to study emerging practices in digital emotion regulation. You will be expected to recruit 5 to 10 participants: these may be fellow students or other cohorts.

    Expected background: Familiarity with HCI methods for understanding user experience.

Browsing and information seeking

Supervisor: Dana McKay

  • Placemarking in library browsing

    This project aims to help us better understand how people keep track of multiple books when browsing library shelves. The work expands on research being done at the State Library of Victoria by Dana McKay, and there are some existing ideas as a starting place for understanding what is happening. You would have to conduct observations of library users as they browse, and analyse their behaviour afterwards, to see what the most common patterns are. Would suit a 25 or 50 credit MIS project.

    Expected background: Qualitative research, understanding of observation methods, good writing skills.

  • Browsing music or video

    Recent research has given us a good understanding of how people browse during a book finding process. How people browse while looking for new music (or good music for right now) or video remains an open question. This project would examine whether the existing frameworks for browsing books could be applied to one or more other media.

    Expected background: No technical skills are required for this project, however experience in qualitative studies and observation would be useful.

  • Find me something to watch on Netflix

    The paradox of choice occurs when people have so much choice that they can choose nothing at all. Recent news media has suggested that this may occur when consumers are selecting video on Netflix. This project would use laboratory based qualitative studies to understand how information seekers choose (or fail to choose) something to watch.

  • Visual elements of books affecting book selection

    Browsing a collection of very similar books is likely to be a very different experience to browsing books that are visually diverse. By comparing search and browse tasks in a very similar collection with the same tasks in a diverse collection. This will allow us to understand what features of books matter during book selection when designing visual interfaces.

  • Understanding how and when people seek information from a range of viewpoints

    A recent study indicates that not everyone engages in filter bubbles—some information seekers, at least, actually go out of their way to seek information from a range of viewpoints. While we know this behaviour exists, we do not know how information seekers do it. There are a range of possibilities for this project, including interviews, diary studies, or log analysis.

Future cemeteries

Supervisors: Martin Gibbs and Fraser Allison

  • Exploring new technologies at the cemetery

    Cemeteries around the world have begun to adopt a range of new technologies, including mobile apps, GPS mapping, voice interfaces, AI algorithms, robots, drones and augmented and virtual reality systems. These technologies could help cemeteries to improve their visitors’ experiences, reduce their environmental footprint, and personalise their services in response to the increasingly diverse desires of the communities that they serve. However, they also have the potential to fail, waste money, and cause disappointment and distress. This project will investigate the possibilities for new technologies at Australian cemeteries. Students can do one or more of the following activities, depending on the scope of their project:

    • Interview members of a local community about one or more technological innovations at the cemetery, and write up design recommendations based on the interview responses
    • Design and build an app or other digital system for use at a cemetery and conduct usability testing

    Expected background: You should have strong writing skills, an understanding of qualitative research methods and an understanding of interaction design. If you choose to create and test an app or other system, you should have the programming experience necessary to complete it.

  • Digital memorials and commemoration practices

    Digital platforms are increasingly used to memorialise those who have died. Users of social networking sites and other digital media often use these services to commemorate and share memories of their deceased loved ones. In this project, you will investigate a case study of a digital memorial. Some examples of the kind of case study that you might investigate include:

    • A virtual agent that has been designed to simulate a deceased person, such as a griefbot or a virtual avatar of the dead
    • A player-created memorial or funeral service for a deceased person within an online game, such as EVE Online or World of Warcraft
    • An emergent practice of images being shared to commemorate a deceased person on a social network site, such as Instagram

    You will analyse the commemorative practices, technological platforms and social formations associated with the case study.

    Expected background: You should have strong writing skills, an interest in online social platforms and an understanding of qualitative case study research. Ability to conduct social media scraping and content analysis may also be beneficial.

Services for disability and social care

Supervisors: Tim Kariotis, Shanton Chang, Kathleen Grey

  • Cultural representations of disability in apps and portals

    In Australia the narrative around disability is one of self-empowerment and self-management. This is seen in the national disability insurance scheme which gives control over choosing and managing services to the person with a disability. Alongside this there are a range of technologies that promote self-management of disability. However, nearly half of Australian are either been born overseas have a parent born overseas. Other countries and cultures have different views on disability and self-management. In this project students will undertake a literature review of cultural representations of disability and interview several health professionals who work in the space of culturally and linguistically diverse healthcare. Students will design a set of design guidelines which they will then use to evaluate two chosen information technologies made for people with a disability.

    Expected background: To undertake this project you could have an interest in user-centered design, strong writing skills and critical thinking skills. Students will be supported to develop their participant interview skills.

  • Evaluating government service portals for people with a disability

    A number of government services are now managed via online portals. This includes the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Aged Care Services and Centrelink (government welfare). People with a disability are expected to use these portals to manage their own care and services. There is evidence to suggest though that these portals do not meet the needs of people with a disability, but also a broader range of groups in disadvantaged situations (eg: those with low literacy, those experiencing homelessness). People with a disability are at higher risks of experiencing a number of types of disadvantage which may multiply the challenges they face in accessing government services. In this project students will be invited to review the literature relevant to a specific target group either, people with a complex mental health issue, people with a visual disability, or people with an intellectual disability, and prepare a set of design guidelines. Students will evaluate a set of government service portal against these design guidelines and write an evaluation.

    Expected background: To undertake this project you could have an interest in user-centered design, strong writing skills and critical thinking skills. Students should have completed INFO90004 or equivalent.

  • Designing and piloting a future design workshop for the future of social care services

    Unlike healthcare, which is currently undergoing a huge digital transformation, social care services such as disability, housing and homelessness services and aged care service have been left behind. There is also no policy or national strategy for the future of social care services when it comes to the adoption of technology. This project aims to establish a strategy for the future of social care services when it comes to technology. To do this, student will design, pilot and evaluative a future design workshop for social care services. Students will be expected to undertake a literature review into social care services and their use of technology. Students will then design and pilot a workshop with service providers from the social care sector. Students will receive support and training in workshop facilitation if needed.

    Expected background: To undertake this project you could have an interest in user-centered design, strong writing skills and critical thinking skills. Workshop facilitation skills would be helpful but are not necessary.

Domestic abuse and smart home technologies

Supervisors: Dana McKay and Charlynn Miller

  • The role of Smart Home technologies in domestic abuse

    Smart Home Technologies are increasing in uptake, from camera that indicate who is at the front door, to managing your electricity use through smart monitoring of your water heater. Along with this technology comes issues in the personal management of the software and hardware. Are these technologies inadvertently aiding abusers to increase intimate partner or family violence?

    Students working on this project can do one of the following:

    • Literature review to examine overall use of smart-home technologies and the potential to use these for intimate partner and/or family violence
    • Characterisations of how technology may be facilitating family violence inside and outside the home
    • Literature review and/or design recommendation(s) to combat the use of technologies assisting family violence

Star Interface Wars

Supervisor: Benjamin Tag

  • Deceptive Interfaces (or: The Dark Side)

    HCI and UI/UX research and practice have been increasingly focussing on the impact of technology usage on its users and the society. One concept that has received rather little attention from HCI researchers are intentionally deceptive designs, so called: Dark Patterns. Dark patterns utilise deceptive designs to make it difficult for users to be fully aware of the consequences of a decision, often taking advantage of cognitive overload. utilising. These designs often aim at indirectly suggesting users to give up more information as intended, opt-in to services the user wouldn’t accept if the meaning and implications were genuinely understood.

    Project options:

    1. Literature review

    Objectives: This project aims at comprehensively surveying cases of Dark Pattern Designs. Special focus shall be put on developing a classification system for dark patterns in the realm of HCI and developing an overview of potential countermeasures. This survey shall serve as a guide and testing references for UX/UI designers supporting the development of accessible, ethical interfaces for all user groups.

    Requirements: critical thinking; interest in UX/UI design, HCI, human psychology; strong english reading/writing skills.

    2. User study

    Objectives: This project puts special focus on manipulative timing, a key element of dark pattern designs, enabling the predictability of user responses through specific notification timings. This project aims at investigating the influence of notification timing on user decisions and their predictability. For this purpose, we will develop a test interface and run a user study investigating manipulative timing.

    Requirements: experience with app/interface development (e.g. JavaScript); UI/UX design; Research Integrity Online Training (RIOT).

    Initial reading: Harry Brignull, Marc Miquel, Jeremy Rosenberg, and James Offer. 2015. Dark Patterns - User Interfaces Designed to Trick People. http://darkpatterns.org/

    Saul Greenberg, Sebastian Boring, Jo Vermeulen, and Jakub Dostal. 2014. Dark patterns in proxemic interactions: a critical perspective. In Proceedings of the 2014 conference on Designing interactive systems. ACM, 523–532.

  • Supportive Interfaces (or: The Force)

    Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have led to a proliferation of learning algorithms that personalise information services. An unintended side-effect is that these predictive algorithms potentially reinforce users’ biases. Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey expressed concerns about the potential to foster the development of filter bubbles (Pariser, 2011), i.e. to only encounter information and opinions reinforcing a person’s own beliefs. This project will investigate the use of technology for positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions, i.e. digital nudges (Caraban, 2019), to help individuals overcome systematic errors influencing decision-making and behaviour (cognitive biases).

    Project options:

    1. Literature review

    Objectives: Project 1 aims at building a comprehensive survey of the application and effectiveness of applications using Nudges in the field of Human Computer Interaction. The special focus shall be put on longterm effectiveness of nudges and subtle suggestions, and how they educate users to change their behavior.

    Requirements: critical thinking; interest in HCI, human psychology and behavioural economics; strong english reading/writing skills.

    2. User study

    Objectives: Project 2 aims at developing a testing platform that allows to investigate the effect of nudges on user decisions. Three potential test cases are:

    1. 1. Anchoring Bias: the tendency to rely on the first piece of information you learn.
    2. 2. Availability Heuristics: the tendency to assign greater credence to information that comes to mind quickly.
    3. 3. Confirmation Bias: the tendency to favour information confirming existing beliefs and disregard information disagreeing with convictions.

    The developed platform shall be used in a series of user studies (follow-up projects are possible and welcomed) that look at the effectiveness of nudges in digital environments.

    Requirements:experience with app/interface development (e.g. JavaScript); UI design; interest in HCI, human psychology and behavioural economics.

    Initial reading: Thaler, Richard H.,Sunstein, Cass R.Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, And Happiness. New Haven : Yale University Press, 2008.

    Caraban, Ana, et al.. “23 Ways to Nudge: A Review of Technology-Mediated Nudging in Human-Computer Interaction.” In Proc. of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 503:1--503:15. ACM, 2019.

    Pariser, Eli. 2011. The filter bubble: What the Internet is hiding from you. Penguin UK (2011).

Cognition Aware Computing

Supervisor: Benjamin Tag

  • Real-time Thermal Imaging

    Different studies have shown, fluctuations in cognitive load are expressed through a change in temperature difference between a person's forehead and the tip of their nose. Increasing workload is expressed in a rising temperature difference and a decrease in cognitive workload is expressed through a decreasing temperature difference between forehead and nose.

    The relationship between workload and temperature is based on the involvement of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS reacts to arousal, which is closely related to mental workload, resulting in changes in blood flow. In order to obtain estimates for changes in brain temperature the facial skin temperature can be measured using infrared imaging technology.

    Development of real-time IR-video analysis tool.

    Objectives: This project aims at developing a real time recording and analysis system for facial temperature pattern changes. The system shall be able to identify significant temperature increases and decreases independent from user and location.

    Requirements: experience with image processing and machine learning; interest in HCI and ubiquitous computing; Research Integrity Online Training (RIOT)

    Initial reading: Pavlidis, Ioannis, and James Levine. “Thermal Image Analysis for Polygraph Testing.” IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine 21, no. 6 (2002): 56–64. https:// doi.org/10.1109/MEMB.2002.1175139.

    Kang, J, J A Mcginley, and G Mcfadyen. “Determining Learning Level and Effective Training Times Using Thermography,” 2006, 1–6.

    Abdelrahman, Yomna, Eduardo Velloso, Tilman Dingler, Albrecht Schmidt, and Frank Vetere. “Cognitive Heat: Exploring the Usage of Thermal Imaging to Unobtrusively Estimate Cognitive Load.” Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies 1, no. 3 (2017): 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1145/3130898.

Smart-Clothing for Sports

Supervisor: Jarrod Knibbe

  • Scan, Scale, and Build: Auto-tailoring Smart Garments

    Imagine walking into a sports store, scanning your arm, and walking out with a custom, tailored smart garment that can monitor and adapt your performance at the gym, playing football, or wherever. Novel fabrication processes and materials can enable us to build high-resolution smart textiles. This project looks to solve an auto-tailoring problem – building garments that fit. By using a camera, or Leap Motion, or Kinect, etc., you will need to identify the various dimensions of an arm, scale a fabric pattern to tightly fit those dimensions, and optimise a digital fabrication process.

    Type of Project: System Development / Engineering

    Requirements: Interest in computer vision, fabrication (3D printing, laser cutting, etc.), or wearable computing.

  • Monitoring and Adapting Performance with Smart Clothing

    We can embed electronics into clothing that let us both monitor muscle activity and change muscle activity (recruiting new muscles, getting people to move in different ways, and so on). This project looks to explore the relationship between muscle monitoring and muscle stimulation. Using state-of-the-art circuitry and eTextiles, you will examine how muscles are recruited during <your exercise of choice> and explore the impact of stimulation during that exercise.

    Type of Project: System Development / User Evaluation

    Requirements: Experience with signal processing. Interest in wearable computing, electronics prototyping, and exercise.

The Messy Edges of VR

Supervisor: Jarrod Knibbe

  • Reimagining the VR Boundary Grid

    As soon as you put on a VR headset, the system asks you to specify the boundaries of your play space. This prevents you from hitting walls, falling over obstacles, etc. As you approach the boundary a virtual grid appears. In many headsets, if you go through the boundary, front facing cameras turn on revealing the real world to you and removing you from the game. This is a relatively binary approach; you are either inside or outside the play space. In this project, we will re-imagine that boundary grid as a fuzzy border, which players and game objects can both pass across. What design and interaction opportunities will this reveal? How can this heighten the player’s experience and simultaneously support improved safety in VR?

    Project Type: System Development, Interaction Design

    Requirements: Requires Unity experience. An interest in VR, game -development, virtual environments, and play would be a bonus.

  • Exploring the sense of Scale when Exiting VR

    In recent work, we explored the experience of removing a VR headset - transitioning from a virtual world back to reality. This work revealed interesting opportunities around aligning the virtual and the real space, to ease the transition across realities as the headset is removed. For example, if the final VR room or space have the same proportions as the real world, is removing the headset less jarring? This project will implement some of those opportunities and explore their effect on user experience.

    Project Type: System Development, User Evaluation.

    Requirements: Requires Unity experience. This project would ideally suit a student with an interest in VR, game-development, virtual environments, and play.