Led by Professor Jeni Paay, this research program works through the design of spaces with people-centred interactive technologies, within and around future areas for living. We’re focused on the transition to sustainable and livable homes, businesses, precincts and cities to support people in their everyday activities. 

As people increasingly work from home or public spaces and manage personal tasks from their workplace, boundaries between spaces for work, leisure and family activities are blurring. At the same time, mobile technologies are also facilitating the ability for people to switch between the different activities of work and home, irrespective of their physical location. These changes require rethinking the ways in which we design future spaces for everyday activities.

Our research aims to design living and working spaces for the future city through user-centred design of interactive technologies that represent and respond to the needs of the people who live there. By involving people in the design practices — such as co-design and user testing and evaluation — designers, information scientists and engineers can guide the process of innovating new products, services and spaces that will benefit both the individual and the collective city. 

Our research program is organised around three intersecting streams that draw from each other and inform our research projects:

  • Participative Citizens (designing with users; understanding users; sustainable behaviour; society and organisations)
  • Interactive Technologies (data visualisation; human-machine interface and technologies; gamification and mixed realities; monitoring cities)
  • Places for People (healthy places for living; quantifying place; future of work; public media spaces)

Current projects

In partnership with 460 Degrees, this project investigates how we can identify individuals and confirm their credentials in the digital realm by using a digital wallet. Digital identities are increasingly being used to validate who we are and what we should have access to, but it’s often unclear who owns that digital identity. As information turns digital, it also becomes more replicable, less tangible and harder to protect.

Self-sovereign identity (SSI) is a solution where the individual identity holder can access and use their credentials on the internet, whenever and however they please, giving away only those details necessary for each transaction. For our project, we’re taking a human-centred approach to the design of an SSI-driven digital wallet, aimed at replacing the functionality of what’s needed from a physical wallet (driver’s license, credit cards, public transport card and loyalty cards). Using co-design methods, we want to understand both the human need for a digital identity and the technological means to support an equitable, trustworthy, usable and sustainable solution.

We’re designing a virtual reality-led recreation of the Italian Pavilion at the Paris International Exposition of 1937. Through virtual reality technology, it’s now possible to provide an embodied experience of original designs overlaid on the existing fabric of buildings. This overlay creates an enhanced visitor experience and provides insight into the innovative designs of the past, which can be used by designers of the future.

This project tests a new methodology for fostering innovation in architectural history and design and has transformative potential for architectural historians to use an experiential method for understanding and analysing ephemeral architecture designers. These designers will have experiential access to this ephemeral architecture as a precedent for innovation in their own design process communities and will gain knowledge about avantgarde moments in world architecture though experience. 

This project is a collaboration with Transport for NSW and iMOVE as well as with the Future Urban Mobility research program within the Smart Cities Research Institute. We’re using a virtual reality (VR) environment that simulates a city street to investigate a series of different street configurations and traffic volumes and speeds, to gauge perceptions of which elements of streetscape design help people to feel more comfortable and safe, therefore representing a ‘successful place’. The user experience of both the VR and the different street configurations will be measured, including their immersion in the VR environment. 

Streets make up over 80% of public open space and are critical to the active and healthy life of a city. The NSW Road Safety Plan 2021 is a supporting plan of the Future Transport 2056 strategy, which aims to “allocate road space in a way that improves the livability of places”. As our population grows, increased pressure will be placed on already contested space within our streets. Findings from our research will provide valuable knowledge about the impact and perception of safety treatments, vehicle speed and noise, traffic intensity and volume, and street design, layout and dimensions on movement and place.

In collaboration with Swinburne's Pathways and Vocational Education (PAVE) sector and Scope, and with funding by the Victorian Government, this project aims to complement and extend the findings of the Jasper: A Virtual Reality Simulation Program for Vocational and Higher Education in TAFE project. The aim is to evaluate the use of interactive virtual reality (VR) for training scenarios for disability support works, as well as the use of different types and levels of VR platforms and headsets for delivering this training.

Our research will focus on training scenarios such as ‘positive behaviour support’ (PBS), which requires direct interaction with another person who may exhibit behaviours of concern. The core value proposition of using VR lies in its ability to generate a compelling sense of having a physical presence or ‘being there’ but being able to deliver this experience remotely via a headset or 3D display. For these reasons, VR is being widely explored as a powerful and cost-effective means of training workers in areas that require physical interaction within environments or with other people. 

Completed projects

This project investigated the opportunities for media art to meet the social and artistic agendas of major urban developers Mirvac and Grimshaw Architects. We explored the potential of combining artistic digital production and data science to both captivate a transient audience and reveal the headline environmental and social stories concealed within big urban data. The work addressed an audience both attending their workplace and on the move in the heart of the city, and led  to a long-term and very public screening.

Find out more via this article.

Our interdisciplinary team of researchers from interactive media, games, immersive experiences and data visualisation worked with Appearition — a Melbourne company specialising in business applications of augmented reality (AR) — to develop a prototype platform for supporting future workplace models.

We developed an application that allows workers to map a workspace using AR room tracking and place virtual items in the room to represent either real fixtures or imagine future configurations of the room. A worker entering the room after it has been augmented could see the augmented objects and information overlaid on the environment itself, without using markers to track the room. 

AR Room Scanner

Our collaboration with Appearition to investigate the use of game-based paradigms applied to the problem of workplace collaboration and information sharing.

In this video demonstration, we had a group of workers place a robot in the workspace through the AR application and then move around the robot, collaboratively assessing its location and impact in the workspace before physically installing the robot.

AR Room Scanner

Future spaces for living program news

Contact the Smart Cities Research Institute

If your organisation would like to collaborate with us to solve a complex problem, or you simply want to contact our team, get in touch by calling +61 3 9214 5177 or emailing scri@swinburne.edu.au.

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