HCI Internship at Microsoft Research Cambridge for SocialNUI student
This is the sort of question posed at the Microsoft Research Cambridge Lab in the United Kingdom, where Human-Computer Interactions (HCI) PhD candidate Behnaz Rostami Yeganeh has recently completed a three-month internship.
Investigations at the lab go beyond mere computing, to look at the ways in which technology interacts with social and cultural aspects of human life. Researchers develop ideas that lead to the creation of new experiences for digital living.
Ms Yeganeh says it was “motivating to follow one’s passion.” She has long held a concern for how technology change lives – in both positive and negative ways, adding that she has always “wanted to have a voice in the design of future technologies.”
This passion led her from engineering into HCI and investigations between technologies and humans.
During her Microsoft internship Ms Yeganeh worked on the Social Devices research project. Not only did the internship project align with her doctorate, but she said, it also “shed light on the direction of the rest of my PhD studies.”
The interns within the program come from a diverse set of backgrounds, ranging from computer science, to art and sociology.
This diversity allowed for the flourishing of a great collaborative environment, where “everyone was friendly and happy to help you in your project if you needed a different perspective,” she said.
Although the specificities of her work at Microsoft are confidential, Ms Yeganeh says that playing a role in the design and evaluation phase of the Social Devices project was a unique and exciting experience. What struck her most about the lab was the inspiring work atmosphere that fed into her passion for designing technologies that improve and enhance human experiences.
Ms Yeganeh worked alongside world-renowned researchers and was mentored by Sean Rintel, a member of the Microsoft Research Human Experience and Design (HXD) group, which investigates the interactions between technology, language, social action and internet culture.
Her work was included in a workshop paper on video calling that was accepted by ITS Summit 2015. She hopes to continue to investigate human-computer interactions in professional and industrial settings, studies that would allow her to build on her expertise in business analysis.
Ms Yeganeh studies within The Microsoft Research Centre for Social Natural User Interfaces (SocialNUI), an academic–industry research centre located within the Department of Computing and Information Systems at the University of Melbourne. Research in SocialNUI focuses on the social aspects of Human-Computer Interactions.
Story by Claudia Hooper