Digital Futures and Technologies for Tomorrow

Emerging technologies offer considerable benefits to all.

black glasses looking at multiple screens

Creativity and innovation using technology is enabling the acceleration of invention through lateral thinking, problem solving and broad-scale collaborations. Students are learning to prepare for the current job market, as well as positions in fields that haven’t been created yet. Our researchers are leaders in creative innovation with their work in digital futures and technologies for tomorrow. Our current research areas include immersive technologies and their varied uses, the impact of technology on education, visual communication technology in community development, the effects on the individual of online presence, and the use and policies surrounding data collection.

Research into immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR) and augmented reality (AR) is needed to discover the lasting impacts these new technologies will have on our daily and professional lives. In particular the ways in which these technologies can be used to educate, rehabilitate, entertain and evoke emotional or physiological responses in users. As these technologies evolve, understanding the potential of virtual and mixed worlds is extremely important for our society: we need to be mindful of the ethical concerns raised and the differences (and similarities) between virtual and real-world experiences, plus what it takes to design and make immersive content that engages users in new and interesting ways.

A key area of interest in digital futures and technologies for tomorrow is the impact of technology across all sectors of education. In particular, the evaluation of modern aspects of learning that utilise technology is key to our understanding of the most appropriate methods that can be used for training in the workforce, educating students and maintaining professional standards. Our research critically investigates new methods of learning such as the flipped classroom, peer assessment, group work, blended learning, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and technology assisted learning including in the workplace. This research will ensure appropriate methods are used to teach knowledge and skills formed through evidence-based research and will lead to greater engagement in learning and improved outcomes.

We experience the world more and more with the aid of new media technologies. Researchers are exploring the design practices used to shape new communication technologies, including websites, smart phone applications and social media, with particular interests in theories of visual design, interface design, and user experience design, as well as the biases inherent in the interfaces and designs that we often take for granted. Our research into user experience design and smart cities applications helps to create interfaces that are engaging, equitable and enlightening. Our researchers have worked with city councils, hospitals and other outside stakeholders to create innovative solutions to a wide range of problems.

Having an online presence is now prevalent, particularly in the developed world, and negotiating this space is an ongoing concern. The strategic production and performance of identity is an emerging field of study (known as persona studies): we investigate the influence and interaction of digitally networked platforms such as social media sites on how people present themselves to the world. In addition to online persona, our research also explores the ways in which people visualise various parts of their lives on Instagram, and how social media platforms can complicate pre-digital conceptualisations of public and private spaces and practices. By engaging with both high profile and everyday users, we are working to examine how different elements of our lives and personas are surfaced, highlighted, contested, or erased via our online presence.

Digital networked media are relatively new and largely unregulated; many businesses and government organisations are innovating in this space. We analyse the ethics and impact of data collection and use by commercial and government organisations, including how our everyday engagements with the internet and social media leaves trails of data that can be collected and used by organisations sometimes to our detriment, an issue of growing concern particularly in the age of smart cities. This research seeks to create workable solutions that establish best practice ethical standards for industry and government when using data, to balance various concerns and create fair and safe environments for everyday users to engage with digital networked media of all forms through transparent and accountable approaches to data management and use.

Our key researchers in this area:

  • Associate Professor Edward Palmer - School of Education. Edward explores situational learning using virtual reality (VR) techniques.
  • Professor Tom Hajdu - Director, Sia Furler Institute, Chair of Creative Technologies. Tom’s expertise lies in strategic creative technologies, innovation, and digital disruption, drawing on his extensive international experiences in music, film, television, and the advertising industries.
  • Dr Kim Barbour - Lecturer in Media Studies, Kim is a qualitative new media scholar whose principal focus is online identities and their impacts, particularly on use of social media.
  • Dr Luke Harrald - Composer/Head of Studies (Popular Music), ECM. Luke produces immersive story telling through sound art via creation of new music and immersive sound installations to tell both historical and contemporary stories.
  • Dr Aaron Humphrey - Lecturer in Media Studies. Aaron’s research combines critical analysis with creative practice to investigate the relationships between images and texts, and between media and society.
  • Dr Sal Humphreys - Senior Lecturer in Media Studies. Sal explores new media and how they interact with cultural institutions such as intellectual property, governance, citizenship and rights, as well as health communication and gaming technologies.
  • Mr Steven Cook - Lecturer in virtual reality (VR) design and development.  Steven’s speciality is in the use of immersive technologies for training, analytics, and spatial reasoning/awareness.

Our research groups working in this area


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