Inaugural Lecture - Professor Patrick Healey

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10 November 2010

Time: 6:30pm
Venue: Drapers' Lecture Theatre, Geography Building, Mile End Road, Mile End

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Communication is at the core of human social organisation. It is also a fragile process. People often differ in their interpretation of words, gestures and even entire conversations. This raises a basic question: how is communication possible at all? This talk will argue that successful communication critically depends on the ways in which people detect and deal with misunderstandings.

Unfortunately, human interaction is notoriously difficult to study. It's messy, fragmented, multi-person and context dependent.  To overcome this we have devised special experimental tools using communication technologies such as: text chat, shared electronic whiteboards and full-body avatars (3D virtual characters). These tools make it possible, for the first time, to carry out fine-grained experiments on live conversations e.g., by changing the words people appear to use without them knowing.

These tools have a wide range of potential applications to future human interaction technologies including chat communities, computer games and service robotics. This research helps to identify key limitations in recently proposed 'holographic telepresence' technologies. It also points to the potential for building new technologies for richer, more expressive forms of augmented human interaction.

Patrick Healey is leader of the Interaction, Media and Communication Group (IMC) and Co-Director of the Media and Arts Technology Programme at QMUL. He holds a BSc in Behavioural Science (Psychology and Zoology Jt. Hons.) from the University of Nottingham and an MSc and PhD in Cognitive Science from the University of Edinburgh.

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