Human-Centred Computing

Human-centred computing is an emerging interdisciplinary field that focuses on the human aspects of technology, including HCI, interaction design, software design and the sociology, anthropology and psychology of computer use.

At the Open University, we are a group of researchers who are concerned with the development of theory, practice and systems that move beyond the ‘old’ HCI paradigm. We embrace new frameworks, methods and approaches for studying and supporting people using mobile, ubiquitous and web-based computing technologies.


  • Design Representations and ArgumentationWe are investigating how people interact with a diversity of external representations - including diagrams, sketches, programming languages, animations, multimedia, virtual environments and tangibles
  • E-Commerce and E-GovernmentOur research aims to explore the relationship between new technologies and people's expectations and behaviours of them and at how this interaction constructs the digital economy and digital society.
  • Empirical Studies of Software DevelopmentOur aim is to engage with practitioner communities and software organisations through empirical studies of actual practice and products in order to derive theory and inform practice
  • IT GovernanceIncreasingly organisations rely on IT for their mission critical functions and to deliver value to business and society at large. Our research investigate processes, social structures and practices by which the deployment of IT within organizations is directed and controlled, what is collectively known as IT Governance.
  • Mobile, Tangible and Ubiquitous ComputingOur research is concerned with developing new frameworks, principles and concepts for mobile, tangible and ubiquitous computing. These include frameworks for direct combination, minimal attention interfaces, tangible interaction, whole body interaction and sensor-based interactions for play. We are also exploring how these technologies might be used in the real worlds within different situations.
  • Music ComputingMusic Computing at The Open University is focused on empowering musicians and illuminating musical activities, and the modelling of music perception and cognition.
  • Problem Oriented EngineeringOur research focuses on tools and techniques to tackle complex engineering problems, whether in the development of software, systems, processes or other artefacts.
  • Social SoftwareSocial Software can be thought of as software which extends, or derives added value from, human social behaviour - message boards, musical taste-sharing, photo-sharing, instant messaging, mailing lists, social networking, virtual worlds and video conferencing
  • Theory and ReflectionsA central part of our research involves adopting a critical stance towards the theory and conceptual frameworks used in the areas we research
  • UNITENovice interaction design behaviour in different cultures. Designing interactive products for different cultures is challenging. While the need to design products for the target end user group is well-understood in HCI and Interaction Design, mistakes are still commonly made.