MSc and UG Project Ideas

Chris Greenhalgh, update in progress...2014-04-08

I am interested in:

Most of my current work is in mobile and ubiquitous computing (including mobile games and cultural experiences), and I have done a lot of work developing mobile applications on Android as well as web applications and collaborative systems.

Most of my projects combine (to varying extents) software development, interaction design and user studies. Here are some project ideas; I'm happy to discuss your own proposals.

Open Sharing Toolkit

The OpenSharingToolkit is a project which I have started to create a set of tools to make mobile phones and tablets (especially Android ones) more useful for everyday sharing of content, information and resources. The first development target has been to create a "kiosk"-type device using an Android tablet (opensharingtoolkit-kiosk), initially for distributing selected content on and off the Internet.

Optimising Download Content and Form for Mobile Consumption

The goal of this project is to identify, prototype and evaluate content forms that will provide a great experience on a mobile phone or tablet. It can be extended to include the creation of suitable authoring tools. eBook readers provide good support for simple reading, but will little or no interactivity. Websites are not available offline. Apps are complex to develop and require access to trusted internet servers (i.e. the app store) to download. Can you come up with new "genres" of downloadable content, which are relatively easy to author but also provide interactivity and engagement?

Designing Phone-as-Server Games

Most multi-user mobile games require a mobile internet connection to a server on the Internet (or "in the cloud"). What if you could run the server directly on your phone or tablet? Control would literally be in the palm of your hand. With contemporary smart phones you can run a range of server technologies directly on a phone or tablet (e.g. node.js), and other player's devices can connect to it directly over WiFi (hotspot or peer to peer). But how does this change the way that games and experiences should "work"? What kinds of game play make sense in this deployment scenario? What interaction challenges and opportunities does it create? The goal of this project is to explore some of these issues by designing, building and testing some phone-as-server games. (a lot of the fiddly low-level work to make the server(s) work on Android has been done, but good development skills are probably still a "must")  

Offline Map Toolkit

Creating applications and sites that use maps on mobile devices is relative simple when you have a good Internet connection. But when you don't then a range of more specialist services are required. The goal of this project is to add off-Internet support for maps to the OpenSharingToolkit kiosk. Initially this would be for viewing pre-cached map data, but ideally would extend to include authoring and updating maps without an Internet connection. 

Authoring Multi-Display Content

In any given location many of the people present will have their a smart or tablet with them, in addition to the other devices and displays that may be present. The goal of this project is design, build and test a system for authoring and showing content that is synchronized across several nearby devices (e.g. mobile phones and tablets). There are lots of existing tools and applications for creating content to show on a single screen (e.g. Powerpoint, Flash), but the goal here is to make it relatively easy to specialise content to work across more than one screen at the same time. For example, each device might provide a particular perspective on the content. Content could be relatively passive (like a presentation) or interactive (like a simulation or game). One option for the underlying technology would be node.js on Android.

Group-aware Notification System

The goal of this project would be implement a notification system for mobile phones that is "group aware", i.e. it modifies the way it which it delivers notifications (such as alerts and reminders) dependong on who else is physically nearby. This responds to issues identified in http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/1978942.1979199 and follow-on studies. The project would require good programming ability for Android, networking and server development.

Telling Tales for small producers

The ToTEM project created an online system for attached information and short stories to everyday items (http://talesofthings.com/). The aim of this project is to explore (research, prototype, perhaps implement, evaluate) how this or similar approaches could be used to support smart-scale producers, for example small rural farmers, craftsmen. For example, how can or should such a system manage the tension between unique individual items or products and lines or families of similar or equivelent products (e.g. a particular chair or joint of meat vs a design of chair or cut of meat).

Interacting with Invisible Local Servers

A range of small embeddable computers are now widely available (e.g. raspberry pi, cubieboard). These can be set up to run a range of embedded services and be accessed over a local WiFi connection. But they often have no directly connected display. The goal of this project is design, prototype and evaluate different means of managing, discovering and interacting with this kind of "invisible" service within a specific physical location.