research


Robotics

The term 'robotics' refers to the study and use of robots. The term was coined and first used by the Russian-born American scientist and writer Isaac Asimov (1920, 1992).The first industrial modern robots were the Unimates developed by George Devol and Joe Engleberger in the late 50's and early 60's. Modern industrial arms have increased in capability and performance through controller and language development, improved mechanisms, sensing, and drive systems.

Humans and most other animal species live in societies where the behaviour of an individual influences and is influenced by other members of the society. Within societies, an individual learns not only through classical conditioning and reinforcement, but in large extent through observation and imitation. We are concerned with how to add such learning mechanisms to artificial agents, including simulated and mobile robots.


Tangible Media & Interfaces

People have developed sophisticated skills for perceiving and manipulating their physical environments. However, most of these skills are not engaged by the traditional Graphical User Interface (GUI) that has become the central approach in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) design.

The GUI represents information mainly as abstract pixels on flat rectangle screens, allowing people to manipulate them only indirectly with a remote controller such as a mouse and keyboard.  The Tangible User Interface (TUI) is an attempt to give physical form to digital information, making bits directly manipulable and perceptible by people. The goal of TUI research and design is to build the next generation of interfaces that go beyond the current and dominant GUI paradigm.


Micro/ Nano Art

Inscribing or painting on food grains is an ancient art form of Asia, which has a history of more than 2000 years, this has been used to send secret messages in those days of kings & tsars.

We are witnessing a global movement of miniaturization: smaller appliances and faster communication: laptops, cell-phones, microwaves.... In the 'palm-era' micro-art is responding to this evolution by imposing deceleration and focus: short-sightedness as the best answer to globalisation.


Wearable Devices and Interfaces

To move beyond today's personal-computing frameworkóin which users rely on keyboards and screens to access informationówill require computers that are powerful, portable, and flexible, with user-friendly interfaces. A few such devices are already available in the form of wearable computers, and this study surveys both their current development and their future potential. Some wearable computers are an integral part of clothing; others are accessories that attach or strap to a person's body. 

Because much of the hardware and software used in a wearable system is newer technology it has not been around long enough to fully realize its capabilities and compatibility. It is critical to study and evaluate the systems and their effect on a wearable system. The constraints on user interfaces and size of hardware make usability studies critical to evaluating the system as a whole.


 Bio-electronics/ Bio-sensors & Bio-semiconductors

Research is focused on the engineering of the interface between biological, physical, and information paradigms. The prospect of human life being usurped by computers moved a step closer with the revelation that microchips have begun to fuse with microbes to create living semiconductors. 

For example, when microchips are cleaned with ultra-pure water, the water can dissolve some semi-conducting materials, such as germanium oxide, which can then crystallise around bacteria. The bacteria survive extremely well inside their crystal homes, impervious to the best human efforts to eradicate them.  But the problem has a silver lining. The microbes have created a "living cell" out of semi-conducting material. Biological processes such as respiration and photosynthesis which use electron transfer could include crystallised bacteria. When exposed to light, or certain chemicals, for example, the bacteria would switch on the current.


Personal-associated Interfaces

No systematic effort has been devoted to addressing user interaction problems from a perspective that provides access for 'all' users, including disabled and elderly people. Advances in technology will soon allow us to design interfaces in much more flexible ways than we ever had in the past. As a result, it will soon be possible to create interfaces that a user can easily adapt to meet their abilities or constraints. In some cases, this will allow individuals who have disabilities to be able to operate devices that they previously could not operate. In other cases, it will allow people who do not have disabilities to operate devices in places where they ordinarily wouldn't be able to. 

In addition to the trend toward flexibility, there is another force at play to make technology simpler. As technology permeates further into every aspect of society including education, employment, community services, and even our homes, it becomes more and more a requirement that people be able to access and use these technologies. While this creates a greater need on the part of people with disabilities to be able to access technologies, it also reflects a similar need by the half or more of the population who do not have disabilities but simply find the current technologies difficult or impossible to comprehend.


Advanced Materials 

The fruits from basic materials research can be arguably viewed as precursors to most breakthroughs in 20th century technologies. The underlying research was usually conducted along well defined avenues of established disciplines: structural/mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, solid state physics, chemistry and chemical engineering, and so on, mirroring the departmental structure in university science departments. As this century beckons, it is becoming quite evident that increasingly multifunctional or 'smart' materials will emerge as the new frontier of not only materials sciences but within modern physical sciences as a whole. In this new era of materials research, truly pioneering activity that opens new fields of scholarship and technology will require the merging of many traditionally separate, sometimes isolated disciplines of sub-disciplines


Active Skins

Advances in nanotechnology mean that the lost or stolen mobile phone could become a thing of the past. Futurologists believe that the concept of ëactive skiní ? whereby incredibly small electronic circuits are inkjet printed onto the surface of the skin ? could become a reality by 2010. This will open the way for the integration of electronic devices such as the mobile phones or televisions literally ëintoí the human body. Circuits could be factory assembled in thin polymer membranes that adhere to the skin like childrenís temporary tattoos and large-scale circuitry could be embedded in stick-on patches similar to plasters. Semiconductor circuits can already be printed using inkjet printers, so it could also be feasible in the future to have circuits painlessly printed onto hands or arms, in somewhere like a local corner shop. Cell phones, MP3 players, electronic diaries and other consumer electronics could be printed into wrists, arms or legs. Having a TV printed onto the back of the hand might be quite appealing for TV addicts.


Erotic Interfaces

Though we are at times reluctant to admit it, all humans are sexual beings.  It is time that we overcame the antiquated societal taboos associated with the topic of human sexuality and began to explore it from a critical academic viewpoint. By developing advanced sexual appliances and techniques, we seek to broaden the range of human amative expression and heighten our potential for sexual gratification.


Spiritual Interfaces

The typical image that comes to mind regarding spirituality is of monuments reflecting ideas about god and heaven. By viewing ourselves as separate from all that is not us, and trying to understand the relationship between those two components of reality, we're already trapped in a thought system where spirituality remains a mystery out of reach, one requiring the mediation of a professional class of priest/interpreters or technocrats. Although computer technology may allow humans to create virtual communities, will it ultimately fall short of providing a true vehicle for understanding spirituality? Is becoming dependent and attached to the computer a source of suffering?


Fluid Interfaces & Moist Technologies

Water is of major importance to all living things; in some organisms, up to 90 percent of their body weight comes from water. Up to 65 percent of the human body is water, the brain is composed of 70 percent water, blood is 82 percent water, and the lungs are nearly 90 percent water. The unique qualities and properties of water are what make it so important and basic to life.

Even though more and more offices use Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDís), many computer users suffer from ëDry Eyes Syndromeí. Drinking a minimum of 4 litres of water per day is recommended to people suffering from RSI to maintain a healthy water balance in the muscles and soft tissue of the body. 

Despite the fact that all natural processes are related to, and make use of water, all computer related processes are based on keeping water, oil and other fluids as far as possible from the dry silicon-based machines.


Temporal-associated Interfaces


Spatial/ Local-associated Interfaces

Since almost every interface is developed to be used at the desk, these interfaces have been adapted to the desk space and desk scale. But not all daily human activities take place at the desk, so lots of other interfaces could be developed to meet the spatial needs and scale for actions which donít take place at the desk; On the floor, in the air, under water, to the wall, on your knee etc.


Lingual Interfaces

Speech recognition and speech synthesis technologies have been available in crude form for nearly two decades. However, due to technical limitations, their application has been limited to a few success stories. Meanwhile, over the same two decades, a revolution in consumer electronics and computing devices has dramatically increased the market need for spoken language interfaces in order to simplify UI and free-up the hands and eyes. So while speech recognition and synthesis technologies continue to make incremental improvements, the potential for a revolution in spoken language interfaces looks promising. 


Hybrid Computing

A computer is a machine able to receive, store, manipulate and output a set of symbols according to a set of pre-defined instructions. There are three types of computer. Analogue, digital and hybrid analogue-digital. Digital computers receive, store, manipulate and output digital information packages called bits. Analogue computers use, information input as continuously varying signals. Analogue-digital hybrids use as a combination of both information sources.

Analogue computers were well known in the 1940s although they are now virtually extinct. In such machines, numbers to be used in some calculation were represented by physical quantities - such as electrical voltages. 

Analogue systems work with continuous signals that are processed according to the physical layout of a machine, rather than by ordering a series of ones and zeros according to the dictates of a logic-based program (which is the digital way). That generally gives analogue machines an advantage in terms of size, efficiency and raw computing power. The reason that people have come to prefer digital computers is that it is difficult to harness that power-for the two things that analogue computers do not have are flexibility and simplicity. If armed with the right software (and assuming its processor is powerful enough) a digital computer can solve any problem that can be expressed as a logical algorithm. But, because analogue computers have their problem-solving abilities built directly into their electronics, if you want to perform a different sort of calculation, you have to design and build a new circuit to do it.

Integrating both analogue as well as digital computing power into one hybrid system could increase calculation power enormously by merging both continuous high-bandwidth analogue computing power and digital reconfigurability into one system.