Science and Engineering

Computer human interaction


What is computer human interaction?

Computer human interaction as a discipline is about designing and better understanding human-machine interfaces and systems.  It uses innovative software systems and technologies, with a focus on understanding how they are used by particular communities, and developing new and improved forms of socio-technical systems.


Our researchers look at new ways for people to interact and engage with technologies, data and each other through things like games, the Internet of Things and codesign techniques.

We look at how to represent big data – we use new ‘big audio data’ approaches to needle-in-haystack problems, their visualisation and sonification.

We apply our research to gamification, play and new interaction mechanisms to motivate and engage with children, people with diverse abilities and different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.

Technology and methodology

We design:

  • smart things for healthy lifestyles, including wearable apps and technologies that monitor, measure, motivate and engage
  • platforms for environmental sensing and monitoring, with improved algorithms and automatic monitoring software
  • co-design methods for human-centred interactive prototypes for health, wellbeing, social inclusion and environment applications
  • data presentation and interaction tools for applications in citizen science and community communication platforms
  • visualisation and sonification developer tools
  • multi-use collaborative interaction spaces
  • game play tools, methods and frameworks for serious game development
  • software and artificial intelligence for automated game design and analysis.

Practical outcomes

Some of the outcomes of our research include:

  • Industry efficiency and efficacy:  companies are using serious games and human computer interaction methods to improve engagement and decision making.
  • Government policy effectiveness, through policy development informed by better data (e.g. from better human engagement and data interactions or better environmental monitoring).
  • Greater human self determination and participation, through more accessible interfaces from government, industry and community (including indigenous) groups.
  • Better equipping researchers in agriculture, ecology and biology for the digital age and interactive environments.

Discover more about our research and practical applications at our Games Research and Interactive Design Lab (GRIDLab) website.


We have a prominent role in teaching across a number of the degree programs, including:

  • interaction design
  • participatory design
  • big data
  • e-science (environmental monitoring)
  • ICT4D
  • digital games and player experience.

Student topics

Are you looking to further your career by pursuing study at a higher and more detailed level? We are currently looking for students to research with us. Contact our staff to find out more about research opportunities, or take a look at our student topics.


The Category 1 funded research projects we are currently leading are:

Framing authentic assessment of service learning within an information technology curriculum

Project leader
Associate Professor Peta Wyeth
Project summary

This project investigated student engagement in service learning projects within an IT context. By examining student experiences and perceptions on civic and social responsibility, ethics and accountability, and community outreach as aspects of professional practice, this project contributed new insights into how these topics are viewed.

The results highlight the unique challenges within this context, particularly how to deliver opportunities for reflection and self-awareness that IT students will value. The results also allowed us to propose a new project management and assessment model designed to address the awareness gaps identified.

Fostering making practices in people from low socio-economic backgrounds

Project leader
Dr Dhaval Vyas
Project summary

This project aims to foster do-it-yourself practices among people from low socio-economic backgrounds by understanding existing practices at four diverse makerspaces, and enabling people to co-design technological prototypes that fit their own needs.

This project will make our culture more inclusive, harness the strengths of people from low socio-economic backgrounds, increase their community engagement, and raise their economic prospects.

Earth soundscapes: A human-computer approach to environmental sound analysis

Project leader
Professor Margot Brereton, Professor Paul Roe.
Project summary

This project aims to visualise and analyse big sound data, to detect patterns of animal and bird calls at different temporal and spatial scales. Eco-acoustics are important for scaling environmental monitoring; since the resulting big sound data is opaque and its fully automated analysis is intractable, human-computer methods are needed to interpret the data.

The project expects to deliver multi-scale sound visualisation, end-user analytic tools and annotation and management methods so people can monitor the environment with insight and accuracy.

New information access technologies for people with intellectual disability

Project leader
Professor Margot Brereton
Project summary

This project aims to co-design a social, interactive and visual internet search interface for people with intellectual disability. Enabling choice and independence is key to the new National Disability Insurance Scheme, but people with intellectual disability are effectively excluded from much of the web.

This project will investigate ways to access and provide information using technologies such as interactive avatars, virtual worlds and trusted social support. Expected outcomes are new search interface technology, a theoretical framework and new web accessibility guidelines.

Human Internet of Things: enabling people to connect through their things

Project leader
Professor Margot Brereton
Project summary

The 'Internet of Things' promises a future in which everyday things are all connected to the internet enabling them to share data and communicate with one another. The vision is technology-centric and things cannot be built by end users.

This project aims to research how the 'Internet of Things' can be democratised: designed and built by everyone young and old, of different cultures and remote, with a domain focus on enabling social engagement and connectedness. People are expected to be able to connect through familiar objects such as their tables and kettles, and build interfaces themselves with intuitive building blocks. Anticipated project outcomes include new toolkits, new creative practices, a theoretical model and example networks of things connecting people in new ways.

Bio-acoustic observatory: engaging birdwatchers to monitor biodiversity by collaboratively collecting and analysing big audio data

Project leader
Professor Paul Roe
Project summary

This project will research how to crowd-source the collection and analysis of environmental animal sounds (for example, birds, frogs). This will enable a bio-acoustic observatory which provides a scalable, objective and permanent record of the environment, something hitherto impossible. The project will investigate how to engage the community of birdwatchers to extend their pastime online with new kinds of interactive tools to enable collaborative analysis of big audio data, and new kinds of birding experiences.

Outcomes will be: new approaches to physical/virtual engagement in human-computer interaction; new approaches to analysing big data; a new validated ecological monitoring technique and concepts for sustainable knowledge generation communities.


School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

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    Gardens Point
  • Postal address:
    School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
    GPO Box 2434
    Brisbane QLD 4001