UCLIC Research Seminar Series

SEMINAR 25th Nov: Joel Fischer – Appropriate ‘intelligent' systems for the real world
Joel Fischer, University of Nottingham


SEMINAR 25th Nov: Joel Fischer – Appropriate ‘intelligent' systems for the real world


Recent research into the use of consumer devices such as the NEST 'learning' thermostat has shown that interaction with these systems is problematic as they are, for example, unable to interpret human intent. In this talk, I want to explore what (in-)appropriate interaction with such proactive systems may look like in the real world. To this end, I will present some of our own research into sketching future infrastructures (CHI '13), domestic energy-related practices such as doing the washing (CHI '14), and supporting energy advice work done by a charity (UbiComp '14). I will also present on-going research into the use of environmental data (e.g., temperature and humidity) as a resource in advice, drawing on video analysis of face-to-face advice sessions. Our research shows some of the ways in which systems rub up against, or are made to fit in with people's everyday practices, and how understanding and advice-giving turns upon unpacking the indexical relationship of the data to the situated goings-on in the home. I will attempt to draw out some common characteristics that have implications for the design of (in-)appropriate 'intelligent' systems for the real world.

This talk should be particularly useful for people with an interest in the home, energy, UbiComp, IoT, and ethnomethodology.

Fischer, J.E., Costanza, E., Ramchurn, S.D., Colley, J. and Rodden, T. (2014).Energy Advisors at Work: Charity Work Practices to Support People in Fuel Poverty.In: Proceedings of the 2014 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp '14). ACM Press.

Costanza, E., Fischer, J.E., Colley, J.A., Rodden, T., Ramchurn, S.D. and Jennings, N.R. (2014). Doing the Laundry with Agents: a Field Trial of a Future Smart Energy System in the Home. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '14). ACM Press.

Rodden, T., Fischer, J.E., Pantidi, N., Bachour, K. and Moran, S. (2013). At Home with Agents: Exploring Attitudes Towards Future Smart Energy Infrastructures.In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '13). ACM Press.


Joel Fischer is an assistant professor at the School of Computer Science, University of Nottingham, and a member of the Mixed Reality Lab. His research in HCI brings together human-centred design with computational methods to support human activities and sense-making in collaborative real-world domains such as Energy and Disaster Response; drawing on a multidisciplinary approach including ethnography, participatory design, prototyping, and deployments in the wild. Joel has a broad interest in HCI, particularly mobile and ubiquitous computing in the wild, CSCW and interactive systems design. He has previously worked at Fraunhofer Germany and interned at (formerly Xerox) PARC in the US. He is a co-investigator on the EPSRC CharIoT project supporting non-profit energy advice work. Previously, he has assumed leading roles in the EPSRC ORCHID platform grant. His recent research focused on user­-centred explorations of smart future energy systems and disaster response and has been published at leading conferences in HCI (CHI, UbiComp, CSCW) and AI (AAMAS, IJCAI), and has been awarded Best Paper awards at CHI 2013 and AAMAS 2015.