About open lab
Open Lab is a leading research group in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Ubiquitous Computing based at Newcastle University.
We are one of the top ranked institutions at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, the premier international conference of Human-Computer Interaction.
We have over 100 researchers from backgrounds in healthcare, community arts, urban planning, education, social care, psychology, machine learning and more.
Our work aligns alongside Newcastle University’s globally recognized strengths in Ageing and Health, Energy, Data, Cities, and Culture and Creative Arts.
Urban Sciences Building
In September 2017, Open Lab relocated to the brand new Urban Sciences Building (USB), located in the west end of Newcastle city centre.
Now based in a state-of-the-art, modern building, Open Lab occupies a spacious portion of the first floor, with abundant resources for teaching, making and researching.
We are open by name and open by nature, so our workspace has a communal layout that fosters collaboration and discussion within and between working groups.
The USB is the flagship building of the Newcastle Helix regeneration. The award-winning building was designed by Hawkins\Brown and its surrounding area is a living laboratory which underpins research to make urban centres more sustainable for future generations. For more information visit the Urban Observatory site.
Many of Open Lab’s projects fall under the digital civics theme – designing digital technologies that help individuals, local communities, and third sector organisations have a stronger voice in public services, and local democracy.
We mainly work across themes in public health, social care, education, local democracy and more.
Our Digital Civics funding includes the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Civics, training 55 PHD students 2014-2022 and the Digital Economy Research Centre, employing 25 postdoctoral researchers across faculties in Newcastle and Northumbria University.
These HCI research projects run across the world from teaching children digital skills in the North East to working with refugees in Lebanon. We also have Open Lab Athens, a research lab working in Greece.
Open Lab’s machine learning group aims to develop state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms and AI for real-world applications.
One of our major research directions is computational behaviour analysis in different scenarios including identification/activity recognition/anomaly detection, based on various data sources, such as from wearable sensors, videos, or text.
We use deep learning, zero-shot learning, and multimodal fusion. Our group members have substantial experience in publishing papers at top-tier (applied) machine learning venues such as T-PAMI, CVPR, T-IP, AAAI, IMWUT/UbiComp, PR.
Open Lab: Athens
Open Lab Athens is a non-profit working in Greece in collaboration with researchers from Open Lab and others across Europe, including Newcastle University, Northumbria University, Swansea University, Hasselt University and Saarland University.
OL: Athens works directly alongside citizens and local groups across Greece, and their research contributes to areas such as computing, social movements, design and Digital Civics.
What is Human Computer Interaction (HCI)?
Designing with people in mind
Human Computer Interaction (HCI) is designing digital technology with people in mind. Making sure that technology works best for the people who use it. At Open Lab we take that a step further, and design technology with the communities it is intended to benefit – known as co-production.
The challenge of human-centered design is to identify ways of working effectively with so-called ‘end users’ – people who use the technology – whether they are individuals, families, communities, or organisations.
Through this approach, HCI research is not something that is done to people or on people. Rather it is research that is done with people. Through this work Open Lab aims to transform society through the creation of both off and online technologies.
We studied two Maker Faires to gain a better understanding of the complex dynamics that makers operate in.
Does the use of personas within design processes prevent meaningful participation?
Gabber is a digital platform designed by Open Lab to make capturing and analysis of audio recordings lightweight and accessible for everyday people and organisations.