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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/M000877/1
Title: Living with Digital Ubiquity
Principal Investigator: Benford, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Rodden, Professor T Greenhalgh, Professor C Flintham, Dr M
Crabtree, Professor A Koleva, Professor B
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
BBC Broadway Media Centre Unilever
Department: School of Computer Science
Organisation: University of Nottingham
Scheme: Platform Grants
Starts: 01 November 2014 Ends: 31 May 2020 Value (£): 1,225,669
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Human-Computer Interactions
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Creative Industries Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
20 May 2014 Platform Grant Interviews - 20 May 2014 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Since its formation in 2000 the MRL has focused on creatively interleaving the physical and the digital for everyday life. We have simultaneously explored new interactive possibilities and developed understandings of how these might be put to use in the real world. Much has changed over last 14 years; some of these changes we have driven, while others we have responded to.

When we began our journey, notions of ubiquitous, tangible and mixed reality computing were very much in their infancy, as were potential applications and methods. Our first seven years was therefore concerned with laying the conceptual and methodological foundations for these fields as well as demonstrating potential applications. Much of this was delivered through the Equator Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration (IRC) that we led until 2007.

We then used our previous platform grant to bridge the gap between Equator and the establishment of the Horizon Digital Economy Hub and Centre for Doctoral Training, and also the Orchid programme grant. The subsequent second stage of our journey has focused on driving the widespread adoption of ubiquitous computing as platforms such as smartphones and cloud infrastructures spread into everyday life. Now, as both Horizon Hub funding and Orchid imminently draw to a close in 2015, we need to once again reinvent our research agenda and also ensure our sustainability by bridging any funding gaps as we refresh our grant portfolio.

The focus of this next phase will be the overarching challenge living with digital ubiquity? The interleaving of physical and digital that was a distant vision back in 2000, is now becoming a reality for many, with a plethora of devices, from smartphones, to Kinects, to Fitbits allowing us to experience the digital in a bewildering variety of ways. The digital world has become rich, available 24/7, increasingly aware of our physical activities, and populated with our personal data. Ubiquitous technologies that were once considered radical are now becoming an unremarkable feature of our lives. Meanwhile, remarkable new technologies continue to emerge. Technologies for rapidly fabricating physical-digital products or for sensing and actuating the human body raise possibilities for radical new experiences.

Our vision of living with digital ubiquity is therefore one of balancing the challenges of living with increasingly mundane ubiquitous technologies, while also enabling people to experience and create extraordinary new experiences. We see this as a productive tension. People must both live in the everyday and yet also seek the profound and creative. It also reflects the essential - and highly creative - tension in the MRL between addressing everyday technology challenges as revealed by ethnographers, while simultaneously engaging with artists and performers to create provocative new experiences.

We therefore propose to exploit platform funding to catalyse a step-change in our research by identifying the new research challenges that will arise from living with digital ubiquity, exploring potential approaches to these challenges, developing our key researchers so that they are ready to face them, and forming the partnerships that will help us address them through future research projects. Platform funding will enable us to deliver a programme of exploratory projects, visitor exchanges, and impact projects to explore our vision while also enabling us to retain and develop key staff over the coming critical period.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk