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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W01257X/1
Title: Rethinking Public Technology in a COVID-19 Era
Principal Investigator: Pearson, Dr JS
Other Investigators:
Robinson, Dr SNW Jones, Professor M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
City and County of Swansea RivingtonHark
Department: College of Science
Organisation: Swansea University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 August 2021 Ends: 31 January 2023 Value (£): 231,612
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Vision & Senses - ICT appl.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Communications Retail
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
What do public interactive information displays, vending machines and pedestrian crossings have in common? They are just a few of the ubiquitous yet essential public infrastructures that rely on buttons or touchscreens; common interactions that, until recently, were considered perfectly safe to perform.

The Covid-19 pandemic, however, has created unprecedented opportunities for technologies that minimise interaction with shared devices. While recent advances in sensor technology and artificial intelligence have enabled consumer products that can respond to other modalities such as speech, gestures and faces, the underlying interaction paradigms have not been widely studied in public-facing settings (as opposed to specialised contexts such as operating theatres or with personal technologies in public). As a result, we do not know how usable, accessible, inclusive or effective these potential solutions are.

The project will begin by surveying the landscape of touch interactions in public services to learn through observation how they are being adapted or avoided. Drawing on these insights, we will develop and integrate a suite of touchless technologies into exemplar public-facing services in a test-bed city, facilitated by our partner, Swansea Council. These flexible longitudinal deployments will allow us to study usage in-situ to determine the most appropriate, robust and cost-effective ways of facilitating safe, touchless interfaces for the Covid-19 era (and any subsequent outbreaks).

The result of this work will be a public-facing touchless interaction design methodology and open-source toolkit of blueprints and techniques that can be integrated into existing infrastructures and used to inform the design of future installations.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.swan.ac.uk