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Stephen Brewster <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Stephen Brewster <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 22 Apr 1999 09:22:38 +0100
text/plain (262 lines)
Dear all, here are a couple of posts people might be interested in.


University of Glasgow 
Departments of Computing Science and Psychology


Research Staff Grade 1B /1A (stlg15735 - stlg17570)

Applications are invited for two Research Assistant posts on an EPSRC-funded
project titled: "MultiVis: A multimodal visualisation system for blind students
using virtual reality". The posts are available from July 1999 (starting date
negotiable) and are tenable for 3 years. The aim of the project is to
investigate if state-of-the-art VR technologies such as force-feedback, 3D
sound and speech input can make visualisations usable by blind people.

One post will suit applicants with a good honours or postgraduate degree in
computing science. This might suit a postdoc or a graduate who wants to
register for a PhD during the post. The position will entail development of
multimodal interfaces for representing information. The RA will be supervised
by Dr Stephen Brewster, and will be based in the Department of Computing

The second post will suit someone with a good honours degree in psychology, and
experience in experimental design and laboratory work. The RA will be
supervised by Prof. Mike Burton and Dr. Gisela Dimigen. 

The appointments will be made on the Researcher 1B or 1A scale, up to point 6,
(stlg15735 - stlg17570), according to qualifications and experience. 

Further particulars for this post are available from:
Mrs Helen McNee
Department of Computing Science
University of Glasgow, G12 8QQ, UK
(0141 330 6047, email [log in to unmask]) 
or at:

where applications (3 copies of c.v. and covering letter) giving the names of
two academic referees should be sent by 1st June, 1999. In reply please quote
reference MultiVis1. 

Informal enquiries may be made to Stephen Brewster (Computing Science) on 0141
330 4966, [log in to unmask], or Mike Burton (Psychology) on 0141 330 4060,
[log in to unmask]


One of the main deprivations caused by blindness is the problem of access to 
information. Visualisation is an increasingly important method for people to
understand complex information (using tables, graphs and 3D plots, etc.).
Computer-based visualisation techniques, however, depend almost entirely on
high-resolution graphics and for visually-impaired users the problems of using
complex visual displays are great. There are currently only limited methods for
presenting information non-visually and these do not provide an equivalent
speed and ease of use to their graphical counterparts. This means it is
impossible for blind people to use visualisation techniques, so depriving them
further. We will investigate and solve this problem by using techniques from
Virtual Reality (VR) that will allow users to feel and hear their data. 

The innovative aspect of this proposal is to investigate the different sensory
modalities to see how they can best be used for visualisation and so create a
powerful, multimodal visualisation system that makes the most of the senses our
users have. We will be using force-feedback, 3D sound, and speech input and
output to try and overcome the problems caused by the lack of vision. The
research that will be done during the project will have a major impact because
it will open up the possibilities for using these new techniques and greatly
improve the quality of life of our users. The main aims of this research are

* Investigate the cognitive and perceptual properties of the different sensory
modalities and the problems blind people face when trying to visualise
* Develop new visualisation techniques using VR and multimodality to allow
blind people to use complex information; 
* Investigate how these new techniques can be incorporated into future
visualisation systems for both blind and sighted users.

The Departments
The Department of Computing Science is one of the foremost in the UK, setting
itself the highest standards in research and teaching. The Department is
internationally recognised for its research, and was awarded the top rating of
5* in the last Research Assessment Exercise. The Department's teaching was
awarded the highest possible rating of excellent in the last Teaching Quality
Assessment. The Department currently has 22 EPSRC-funded research projects, 6
EC-funded projects, 7 industrially-funded projects, and several fellowships.
The current grants and fellowships total more than 4M.

The academic staff comprises 5 Professors, 7 Senior Lecturers, and 18
Lecturers. These are supported by an IT Officer, a Systems Manager, 5
Programmers, 6 Technicians, a Departmental Administrator, an Information
Officer, a Marketing Officer, a part-time Student Recruitment Officer and 12
Clerical staff.

Offices and laboratories are equipped with over 250 Intel based PCs,
approximately 100 Apple Macintoshes and some 110 UNIX workstations,  backed up
by file and print servers, and a number of colour printers,  scanners and audio
equipment. This equipment is inter-connected by a comprehensive FastEthernet
backbone. Attached to this network are high performance single user systems and
multiple file and process servers. There is also connection to a fledgling ATM
service and Gb Ethernet.

For more details see:

The Department of Psychology was founded in 1907 with the appointment of Henry
J. Watt to the Laboratory of Experimental Psychology.  Watt's work in audition,
cognitive processes and music and his participation in the Wurzburg School made
him an international figure. Subsequent appointments include Thouless 1925,
Pickford in 1930 and P.E. Vernon in 1938.  After the departure of Thouless to
Cambridge in 1938, Chairs in the Department have been held by Pickford,
Corcoran, Farr and Oatley.  The present professors are Tony Sanford, Simon
Garrod, Mike Burton, Anne Anderson, Barry Jones and Philippe Schyns.

The last three years has seen rapid expansion of the Department's staff,
coupled with a systematic reduction in student numbers. The Department teaches
large student classes, but currently maintains a staff-student ratio of roughly

The Department's research rating was 4 in the 1996 RAE. It is departmental
policy to aim for a 5 rating in RAE 2001. The award of an 'excellent' in the
1998 SHEFC Teaching Quality Assessment reflects a commitment to the provision
of a high quality educational environment.

The Appointments
These appointments are being made to work on an EPSRC-funded project titled:
"MultiVis: A multimodal visualisation system for blind students using virtual
reality". The posts are available from July 1999 (starting date negotiable) and
are tenable for 3 years.

The EPSRC grant is held in collaboration between the departments of Computing
Science and Psychology. One RA will be based primarily in Computing Science and
the second in Psychology. However, there will be daily collaboration between
grant holders and RAs on the project. Applicants with some experience or
knowledge of both disciplines will therefore be at an advantage. 

All applicants should hold a good honours degree, and possibly a higher degree,
in a relevant discipline. The computing science RA would benefit from any/all
- a good understanding of human-computer interaction and visualisation
- understanding of the issues involved with blind people using computers
- excellent programming skills
- knowledge of C/C++/Java
- skills with any of the technologies to be used on the project 
        - 3D sound
        - force-feedback devices
        - multimodal interaction

RA 1 (Computing Science)
One of the main tasks will be to integrate the force-feedback, 3D sound and
speech input systems so that they can work together. Simple prototypes will be
developed that will allow some initial usability testing to take place. This
will allow us to understand the basic problems students face when visualising
information and then to build on these for more complex visualisations in
subsequent years. Results from the research in psychology will help form the

Once the initial prototypes have been built the RA will begin to design systems
to represent more complex, multidimensional data such as linegraphs, 3D plots,
etc. Combinations of speech input, speech and non-speech sound output, Braille
and force-feedback have the potential to provide a rich way to interact with
and visualise data. Th RA will investigate the design possibilities,
constrained by the results from psychology. The designs will be full tested in
a series of usability studies.

The final stage will be to develop demonstrators. The demonstrator applications
will be based on the experimental prototypes used throughout the project.
However, they will be brought up-to-date to include all of the results and
principles developed. They will be usable by teachers and blind people to
visualise information. We will carry out classroom-based studies to ensure that
the prototypes are effective in the context of use for which they were

RA 2 (Psychology)
The person appointed will have day to day responsibility for running
experiments. In the initial stages of the project, the Research Assistant will
carry out a number of experiments which have already been designed. However, it
is expected that during the later stages the Research Assistant will contribute
to the design of further experiments.

Responsibility for running experiments includes: recruitment of subjects,
running laboratory experiments and preliminary analysis of data. The person
appointed will be expected to become familiar with a number of computer
packages to handle image display, experimental control and statistics.  

The topic of the project is multimodal information presentation. 
In the first year, psychology will focus on examining working memory across
different senses (particularly haptic and aural). 
In subsequent years, the focus will be on evaluation of prototype multimodal
systems for representing information to blind people. 

Further details
For further details, applicants are invited to examine the research proposal
which can be found at:

Teaching duties
As part of your normal duties you may be engaged in teaching or demonstrating
for up to six hours each week (or a pro rata period in the case of part time
appointments) during normal working hours.

Informal Enquiries
If, prior to submitting an application, applicants wish to pursue an informal
enquiry about the post, they should  contact Stephen Brewster (Computing
Science) on 141 330 4966, [log in to unmask], or Mike Burton (Psychology) on
0141 330 4060, [log in to unmask]

Terms and Conditions
The appointments will be made on the Researcher 1B or 1A scale, up to point 6,
(stlg15735 - stlg17570), according to qualifications and experience. The
successful candidates will be eligible to join the Universities Superannuation

Method Of Application
Applications should be submitted to:
Mrs Helen McNee
Department of Computing Science
University of Glasgow, G12 8QQ, UK 
(0141 330 6047, email [log in to unmask]) 

not later than 1st June, 1999.

Each application should consist of three copies (one in the case of overseas
applicants) of the following:

* a full curriculum vitae
* a covering letter explaining why you wish to be considered for the position
* a brief note on the state of your health
* all appropriate contact numbers, for example  
 ~ home telephone number
 ~ work telephone number
 ~ fax number
 ~ email address (if applicable)
* the names and address of two academic referees.  It would be appreciated if
fax/email addresses could be given.  It is University policy to approach
referees in advance of interviews, unless otherwise instructed.


Dr Stephen Brewster
Lecturer in HCI            Mailto:[log in to unmask]
Dept of Computing Science  Tel: +44 (0)141 330 4966 (voicemail)
University of Glasgow      Fax: +44 (0)141 330 4913
Glasgow, G12 8RZ, UK

2nd International Workshop on Human-Computer Interaction
with Mobile Devices: