PGR Summer Conference 2021

This is the first year that NORTH Lab is running a student led PGR summer conference to showcase the incredible work from our PGR community. The event is taking place across two afternoons (Thursday 24th June and Friday 25th June) in the summer of 2021. This page highlights the work being presented at the event, and the organisers who have spent time putting this together for the NORTHLab community. To open the event, Professor Lynne Coventry will be speaking, together with one of our event organisers, Megan Doherty. Friday afternoon will be hosted by another of our event organisers, Leila Hogarth. We hope this will be the first of a regular annual student led event that will allow our community to shine a spotlight on the incredible work being undertaken by our PGR’s, and that the event provides an opportunity for us all to share insights and feedback.

Organising Committee

Thank you to our incredible organising committee of PGRs:

  • Leila Hogarth

  • Namrata Prakash Primlani

  • Derianna Thomas

  • Megan Doherty

  • Sarah Kiden

PGR Presenters

Chloe Kliman-Silver

When: Thursday 24, 2.10PM – 2.25PM, Zoom

My research centres around dogs and technology, drawing upon literature from several fields, including the sociology of pets. After a quick overview of the sociology of pets literature, I will detail two avenues of research: surveys examining the effect Covid-19 had on human-dog dyads and prototypes showing the spectrum of dog agency. For the first project, two surveys were conducted over a period of 8 months focusing on the impact covid-19 has had on dogs by examining their owner’s social media choices. Participants were recruited through Twitter and a dog-focused mailing list ran by one of my co-authors; just under 1500 people were recruited. Each participant was asked to answer Likert questions and give their thoughts on a selection of curated Twitter conversations. The data was analysed using thematic analysis and revealed dog owners’ beliefs around morality and dog ownership. The second area of research examines dog technology and its effect on human-dog dyads. I am currently preparing prototypes that explore the amount of free will dogs have in their interactions with their owners; the devices will range from those that treat dogs as objects to those that allow dogs to make all the decisions.

Tor Alexander Bruce 

When: Thursday 24, 2.25PM – 2.40PM, Zoom

Mental illness is a very broad term used to identify a recurring social challenge, one that is increasingly stretching healthcare systems to a point of overload and is anticipated to continue to prove a need for innovative ways to provide potential solutions. Throughout the past 18 months I have explored what both a future environment and therapeutic intervention might look like, in the context of mental healthcare. This NORTHLab presentation will take place from within an immersive, interactive virtual environment at Coach Lane’s Clinical Skills facility within University of Northumbria. As the research is interdisciplinary (between Human Computer Interaction and the Cognitive Sciences), I will briefly describe the underpinning theory that links to an enactive view which regards perception as a motivated activity where people make sense of reality by engaging with it. My current perspective forms an assumption that brains, bodies and environments are all interconnected, which in itself opens up some quite fantastic possibilities. I will showcase some of the features of a prototype therapeutic intervention called: The Timeline. 

Neeranjan Chitare 

Effect of markers in identifying Spear Phishing 

When: Thursday 24, 2.40PM – 2.55PM, Zoom

Phishing attacks are considered the most disruptive types of attack that organisations face as compared to other breaches and attacks. Spear phishing, also referred as ‘Business Email Compromise (BEC)’, is when an attacker uses knowledge about employees or an organisation to make their mails even more appealing and realistic. Spear phishing mails are highly personal in nature and exploit technical as well as human vulnerabilities in an organisation. The technical aspects of BEC fraud have received a lot of attention as compared to that of the human elements. In addition to this there are gaps in knowledge about the appropriate combination of technical and human measures to avoid BEC fraud. As technology advances, so do the techniques employed to perpetrate these scams. Various markers have been highlighted throughout the literature investigating this topic that users should look out for in order to detect probable phishing messages. This work will focus on investigating how the addition of authentication markers to email communications can affect the decisions of SME employees on spear phishing messages. We will initially elicit various indicators and study existing markers that employees use to identify genuine messages. We will then analyse various responses of the user on detection of BEC fraud. For this we make use of Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion to identify the ways in which these indicators are used to design the spear phishing mails. Based on this study we will develop new markers which assist in the authentication of the emails. 

Namrata Prakash Primlani  (Organiser)

When: Thursday 24, 2.55PM – 3.10PM, Zoom

OpenDoTT  is a PhD programme from Northumbria University and Mozilla to explore how to build a trustworthy Internet of Things. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of everyday objects that can send and receive data via the internet. As more everyday objects get an Internet connection, the IoT is extending to all spheres of life, from the body such as in the form of fitness trackers, face recognition technology, healthcare devices, to the home such as in domestic IoT, home assistants, energy meters and home surveillance, to the community and city in the form of policing, surveillance and sousveillance, environmental monitoring, location tracking and digital maps. As the IoT expands, it is increasingly important to discuss what trust means in the context of smart environments and how we may build trust within IoT ecosystems. The aim of this project is to identify properties that define trust in the IoT working towards concepts for a trusted IoT label that is understandable by human beings and machines. This research also explores the interplay between policy, design and technology and identifies how relevant policy can be embedded into a trusted IoT label. 

The research involved literature reviews, qualitative studies and multiple iterations of ideations and prototyping. Properties that define trust in the IoT were identified, including the plurality of trust and ideas around ubiquitous surveillance devices, big data, behaviour modification, data boundaries, information flows, privacy, consent, knowledge and power. Concepts explored shifting power balance in the IoT in favour of device users by making information flows visible and controllable through technological interventions. The next phases of research will explore contexts of use for a programmable, user controlled IoT label through ethnography and participatory design. 

Leila Hogarth (Organiser)

Human values versus machine values in UX design practice 

When: Thursday 24, 3.10PM – 3.25PM, Zoom

This research explores how commercial user experience (UX) designers understand the ethical uses of personally identifiable information when designing products that use machine learning.  Balancing human values with automated uses of data is an emerging challenge area for UX designers. From sign in pages that capture more data than is needed to algorithmic decision making in financial services. These designs on, and of, our data create a digital simulacrum of human interactions and unwitting bias. 

This research finds designers in an expanded mediating role in commercial practice – balancing client demands and their own design values. Whilst all stakeholders might be deemed to play their part in the ethical construction of a data informed product, the fulfillment of this role is ambiguous and often is manifested through design decisions made by the designer.  I will be sharing emerging insights from a series of co-creative workshops. Taking place in the industry workplace setting, these workshops guided UX designers as they explored, explained and reflected on how they understand automated uses of data in their design practice.  

Megan Doherty (Organiser)

Exploring the expansion of planner’s engagement capabilities via the data from a building information model for public consultation 

When: Friday 25, 2.10PM – 2.25PM, Zoom

Current digital methods for consulting the public on urban planning proposals are not always an inclusive forum to the public. COVID-19 revealed concerns with digital platforms, as many councils relied on digital means to reach out to the public, and lost access to traditional means of methods. Losing face to face mediation between planner and public. In doing so the lack of technocratic know-how, staging of the planning system, and knowing what aspect of the design might be able to change makes it difficult for the public to understand and contribute to certain design decisions. Currently, the construction industry has utilised Building Information Modelling to collaborate digital information amongst the project team of developers. This study aims to understand how Building Information Modelling (BIM) can be integrated into planning consultations to better communicate designs to the public. 

This study presents a set of requirements for a prototype that begins to introduce BIM data into a digital planning consultation tool by exploring how a building development’s information management would need to be integrated into planning. In doing so this research works to reveal specific features needed to better incorporate the information retrieved from the public for ongoing project development design. This study aims to understand how BIM 3D models and associated data can be visualised to communicate building proposals during planning consultation activities so to address the knowledge gap amongst the public. 

Simran Chopra 

When: Friday 25, 2.25PM – 2.40PM, Zoom

HCI is increasingly looking at futures of cities by engaging citizens and communities in creating participatory futures, for empowering hyperlocal solutions and influencing policy change for ‘smart’ cities. Thus, critically examining systemic perspectives and problems of scale to redesign unsustainable socio-technical structures. Taking urban food growing as an instance of sustainability work in HCI, local food growing communities are important in engendering positive change from the bottom up. Thus, envisioning futures is key in empowering grassroots communities for transitioning towards sustainable food systems.  Previously, grassroots community-based ‘futuring’ work has used traditional design workshop methods. Others have used digital tools, in engaging a large audience in the creation of an organisational future vision, for purposes of democratic decision making and to increase modes of representation through distributed qualitative data analysis.  Thus far, however, there has been very little attention paid entirely to grassroots future thinking processes which are embedded, negate structural hierarchies, and move beyond facilitation by expert designers or researchers.  

 This talk will cover ongoing work, building on my PhD research, concerning practices of ‘futuring’ in grassroots communities, to understand how interactive systems can be designed for embedded participatory visioning. Through social media technologies such as Whatsapp and Instagram communities will co-create and share local future visions. This work further aims to contribute towards how existing digital technologies limit or support situated co-speculation and participation. Furthermore, aiming to develop considerations for situated digital tools for local grassroots communities engaging in participatory visioning and how these tools can promote transitions for sustainable outcomes. 

Shaun Lillie 

Evaluate the use of Artificial Intelligence and embedded Virtual Reality for customising the learning experience of autistic students in Higher Education (HE)

When: Friday 25, 2.40PM – 2.55PM, Zoom

Social anxiety can cause a significant impact on autistic learners when it comes to transitioning into HE, leading to sensory overload (Maddox and White, 2015). VR can provide the tools to support anxiety in a safe environment (Kandalaft et al, 2013). Furthermore, technology is changing the way we support autistic learners in HE. This research project will be investigating using VR to see if it can help overcome sensory overload and improve autistic learners physical and intellectual skills. 

Sarah Kiden (Organiser)

Ethnography at a Scottish Community Fridge

When: Friday 25, 2.55PM – 3.10PM, Zoom

Food waste has been considered as one of the highest emitters of greenhouse gas. In collaboration with local businesses, communities have started to play their part in reducing waste by sharing surplus food. This presentation is an account of a researcher’s ethnography journey at a Scottish Community Fridge, and themes that were drawn from the experience. As part of an ongoing study, the current phase includes continued participant engagement through sketches, illustrations and prototypes, in which the researcher is working with an artist and participants to co-design possible Internet of Things (IoT) futures with food-sharing communities.

Derianna Thomas (Organiser)

How augmenting everyday objects we use when working from home could help improve wellbeing and productivity 

In a recent set of focus groups participants discussed the everyday objects they use when working from home, and how they believe different augmentations of varying modalities (e.g. audio, visual, and haptic) for these objects could assist them with improving their wellbeing and productivity. This poster will show a selection of sketches and pictures of the discussed objects and augmentations, and touch on future work where these objects could become a pilot for a generalised multisensory augmented reality architecture. 

Matt Dixon

When: Friday 25, 3.10PM – 3.40PM, Zoom

Smartphones have become an overwhelmingly ubiquitous part of modern life with huge levels of ownership across the world. Smartphones allow us to carry out a huge range of functions from just about anywhere, making them an essential part of life for many users. But our bond with smartphones goes far beyond functionality and acts both as an extension of our identity and a window through which we interact with and perceive the world. Even so, smartphone users often secure their devices very poorly. Along with the classic threats of security incidents, compromise of smartphones may be damaging in especially unique ways.  My work will focus on the intersection of our profound tie to our smartphones and how we protect them.