Design Lab: Research

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Research areas

Computational Design

Agent-based design
AI in design
Artificial life
Big Data
Building information modeling (BIM)
Computational design modeling
Creative design systems
Curious agents
Emergence in design
Evolutionary design
Games design
Generative design systems
Mass customization
Multi-agent systems (MAS)
Parametric modeling
Urban Computing
Urban Informatics

Design Studies

Design cognition
Design discovery
Design thinking
Gestalt theory in design
Productive thinking in designing

Electronic Art and Design

Augmented reality performance
Cyborg culture
Dance and technology
Data art
Electronic art
Electronic body art
Embodiment in digital culture
Generative music
Generative sound
Gestural interaction
Information graphics
Installation art
Interactive audio
Interactive design
Interactive performance
Locative media art and performance
New media
Sensor-based art
Visual culture
Visual design
Wearable computing

Information Visualization and Sonification

Aesthetic sonification
Agent-based visualization
Ambient display
Auditory display
Data art
Information aesthetics
Information graphics
Information visualization
Persuasive computing
Physical computing
Wearable computing

Interaction Design

Computer-supported collaborative work
Electronic body art
Embodiment in digital culture
Interaction design
Interactive audio
Interactive installation art
Interactive sonification
Interactive video
Interface culture
Locative media art
Mobile art
Performative geography
Sensor-based interaction
Tangible user interfaces

Pervasive and Physical Computing

Mobile computing Persuasive computing
Pervasive computing
Physical computing
Sensate environments
Sensor-based design
Wearable computing

Urban Computing and Science of Cities

Urban informatics
Urban data science
Quantitative urbanism
Sensing technologies for new types of big data
Mining, aggregation, and analysis of big urban data
Design for positive social behaviour change in cities
Machine learning and econometrics for urban planning/design
Data driven urban design/planning

Virtual Environments and Virtual Reality

Augmented reality
Augment reality performance
Augmented virtuality
Computer-supported collaborative design
Tangible user interfaces
Virtual environments
Virtual reality

Henry Halloran Trust

Blue Sky Projects

Visions of Sandstone: Reducing cost and increasing safety of heritage infrastructure inspection using aerial robotics. ($21,440)

Dr Rob Saunders, The University of Sydney University
Dr Simon Weir, The University of Sydney
Developing an advanced visual inspection tool for assessing the quality of ageing sandstone in public infrastructure. Applying off-the-shelf quad copters equipped with high-resolution cameras to the problem of inspecting the built fabric of ageing infrastructure, we can increase efficiencies of maintenance work. The project was developed after discussions with sandstone section of the New South Wales Department of Public Works, and has been tailored to the specific needs of sandstone inspection, but many of the project details can be readily adapted to similar surveillance conditions.

Enabling audience participation through Urban Media as a diagnostic method in Urban Planning ($47,834)

Dr Martin Tomitsch (Usyd CI), Senior Lecturer; Design Lab, The University of Sydney with
Mr Ian McArthur Senior Lecturer; COFA, UNSW,
Dr Matthias Haeeusler, Senior Lecturer; Built Environment UNSW,
Mr Brad Miller Senior Lecturer; COFA, UNSW,
A/Prof Marcus Foth, Urban Informatics Lab QUT,
A/Prof Andrew Murphie FAS, UNSW and
Mr Luke Hespanhol PhD Candidate, Design Lab, The University of Sydney
The projects focuses on how urban screens contribute to building more livable, creative and engaging ‘smart ‘cities. It aims to bring together a series of ongoing research efforts into a holistic approach. This will lead to a tested and reproducible method for identifying how to ‘program’ urban screens to respond to specific physical and socio- cultural environments.

UrbanLab@Sydney: Building an open access data system for policy analysis and visualization. ($30,876)

Dr Somwrita Sarkar, Lecturer; Design Lab The University of Sydney
A/Prof Dr Nicole Gurran, Urban and Regional Planning, The University of Sydney and
Dr Martin Tomitsch Senior Lecture Design Lab, The University of Sydney
UrbanLab@Sydney aims to establish a system or platform that can be enhanced in the future via the addition of new data variables and analytical approaches, extending to a range of other urban issues and focus areas, subject to resources. It will be the first of its kind in any university across Australia to develop an online, publicly accessible system for data analysis, information visualization, and policy relevant commentary on urban planning and city science research in Australia.


Urban Housing Lab@Sydney: Predictive analytics and policy platform for Sydney's housing market. $439,589 (over 3 years)

Dr Nicole Gurran, Urban and Regional Planning, FADP
Dr Somwrita Sarkar, Design Lab, FADP
Dr Jennifer Kent, Urban and Regional Planning, FADP
Ms Catherine Gilbert, Urban and Regional Planning, FADP
Ms Stacey Miers, Design Lab, FADP
Mr Hanley Weng, Design Lab, FADP
Housing is a central component of urban infrastructure, yet provision of appropriate and affordable housing near transport and jobs remains a key challenge. Addressing this challenge depends on better understanding the mechanics of the housing market and how policy interventions – like urban planning – might enhance housing outcomes. Building on the big-data capacity of UrbanLab@Sydney, this Incubator constructs a research platform for examining housing market dynamics in Sydney and potential levers for change. Research fostered within the Incubator will connect to wider scholarship on planning, infrastructure, the market and big-data analytics while distilling key implications for urban policy and practice.

Selected Research Projects

Development of a Browser Extension to Enhance Accessibility in Online Libraries for the Vision Impaired (2015)
Investigators: Tomitsch M, Wilson K
Funding Body: AuDA Foundation

Integrating a Somatic Approach in User Experience Design of Wearable Technologies (2015)
Investigators: Loke L, Schiphorst T
Funding Body: DVC International/IPDF Grant

Vivid Light Sydney 2014 (2014)
Investigators: Tomitsch M
Funding Body: AGB Events/Vivid Light Sydney 2014 Support

Musical Metacreation Network Development (2013)
Investigators: Bown O, Saunders R, Pasquier P, Eigenfeldt A
Funding Body: DVC International/IPDF Grant

Professional development for academics: Evaluating a personalised mobile website for learning from student feedback (2013)
Investigators: Tomitsch M, Curwood J, Hendry G, Thomson K
Funding Body: Office of Learning and Teaching, Seed Grants, Australian Government

Responsive transport environments: spatial and visual user information technologies to allow improved passenger flow and a better customer experience (2012)
Investigators: Haeusler M, Tomitsch M
Funding Body: Australian Research Council (ARC)/Linkage Projects (LP).

The Sydney Network on Climate Change and Society (2012)
Investigators: McCalman I, Schlosberg D, Bashford A, Probyn E, Allon F, Giles P, Smith V, Marks P, Celermajer D, Mikler J, Chester L, Gurran N, Shrestha K, Lyster R, McManus P, Pritchard W, Neilson J, Byrne M, Wright C, de Berigny Wall C
Funding Body:DVC Research/Research Network Scheme (SyReNS)

Computational Models of Creative Domains (2007)
Investigators: Saunders R
Funding Body: University of Sydney/Early Career Researcher

Curious Places: Agent-Mediated Self-Aware Worlds (2006)
Investigators: Maher M, Saunders R
Funding Body: Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP)

Completed Research Projects

  • Linguistics-Based Preference Information Modeling for Design Decision-Making (2009 - 2012)
    The objective of this research is to model the preference information embedded in natural language engineering design texts in order to identify linguistic forms of preference that will form the basis for a decision-making model that supports comparison of computed decisions to actual decisions.
    Investigators: Maria Yang (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Andy Dong; Funding Body: US National Science Foundation
  • Curious Places: Agent-mediated Self-Award Worlds (2006 - 2008)
    This project develops and demonstrates a model of curious places: physical and digital environments that adapt their behaviour based on their experiences. This means that we can implement new kinds of places, rooms, public spaces, that respond to human activity and new technology by creating their own goals and behaviours.
    Investigators: Mary Lou Maher and Rob Saunders; Funding Body: Australian Research Council
  • Designing for Mobile Learning in a Technology Museum (2005 - 2008)
    This project investigated which pedagogical models are most appropriate for informal (museum) learning and and how these models can be aligned with ICT-mediated learning tools. In collaboration with The Powerhouse Museum, we developed a pedagogical model of informal learning, created activities supported by a mobile learning and collaboratory technical infrastructure to nurture experiential learning and informal discovery, and investigated informal learner experiences within this ICT-mediated informal learning environment.
    Investigators: Peter Reimann and Andy Dong; Funding Body: Australian Research Council
  • Computational Methods for the Social Accounting of Teamwork (2005 - 2008)
    This research examined the pragmatics and theoretical issues of developing computer-based systems that enable real-time assessments of teamwork productivity. The research results have been published in the book The Language of Design: Theory and Computing with accompanying software for the analysis of knowledge integration in creative teams.
    Investigator: Andy Dong; Funding Body: Australian Research Council