Tom Rodden

Tom Rodden

Professor of Interactive Systems

Mixed Reality Laboratory (MRL)

University of Nottingham

Distinguished Lecture

Homework: Reinventing the domestic network

4:00pm Tuesday 15th November 2011, Robert Recorde Room, Faraday Building

The talk will be followed by a reception


The domestic network has become a significant focus in HCI with researchers offering insights into the work implicated in setting up and maintaining network infrastructure in weaving the home network into domestic routines, and in users understanding their home networks. This talk presents work that builds upon existing studies of home networks and our own empirical work across 24 households to shape novel architectures and mechanisms for wireless home networks that are more amenable to human concerns and reasoning.

Our approach has been to open up the domestic network infrastructure to allow access to parts of the home network that are normally “closed” or hidden from HCI developers and users. A key driver has been to develop a platform that allows significant research to be undertaken “in the wild” in residents’ homes, requiring us to develop an infrastructure that is robust and responsive, and capable of measuring and controlling the network without reducing its performance. Our router has been deployed in a wide range of domestic settings and has been used to support a number of user interfaces currently undergoing iterative refinement.

Combining empirical understanding of use with a re-examination of network protocols, models and architectures in a domestic setting has required us to bring together a number of different research traditions within computer science. Most notably we have sought to combine the user driven perspectives of HCI with the systems engineering views prevalent within the networking community.

In this talk I would like to outline the key issues surrounding home networks that emerge from our empirical studies and highlight how these raise challenges for the underlying digital infrastructure that extend beyond issues of the interface. I would present how we have reshaped the underlying infrastructure to address these challenges by making available more information about traffic and use, by amending key infrastructure protocols to involve users, and by altering how critical services are provided. These user-oriented facilities enable the development of interfaces and applications that increase user engagement with the infrastructure. Finally, I would like to reflect on our experiences in seeking to work across a range of research traditions in computing commenting on the challenges involved.

Speaker's Biography

Tom Rodden is Professor of Interactive Systems at the Mixed Reality Laboratory (MRL) at the University of Nottingham. His research focuses on the development of interactive technologies to support users within the real world and new forms of interactive technology that emerge from mixing physical and digital interaction. This is a multi-disciplinary endeavour bringing together researchers in behavioural and social sciences and those involved in systems engineering, network infrastructures and interactive systems design. He has published widely in the areas of Computer Supported Cooperative Work, HCI and Ubiquitous Computing. He was director of the EPSRC supported Equator IRC from 2001-2006, a multi-site research endeavour in the area of Ubiquitous Computing involving eight UK universities. He currently holds an EPSRC Senior Research Fellowship focusing on ubiquitous computing in the real world and is deputy director of the RCUK Horizon digital economy hub at Nottingham.