About the Institute
Digital Futures Institute
The Digital Futures Institute (DFI) is host to a range of research activities in computing and aims to achieve a balance between generic research topics, mostly in programming research, and the development of new technologies for user-centred systems, such as multimodal interfaces, accessibility and new interactive media.
The Institute has focused on developing a global identity for different research groups originating from the School of Computing and, although this process will require continuous efforts, this new structure has already proved beneficial in helping to structure research investment by the University.
Research Assessment Exercise 2008
One of our highlights has been the publication of the national Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008 results, in which DFI members played a key role. These results constitute a dramatic improvement over the previous RAE and, with 10% of the submission judged internationally leading and 45% internationally excellent, provide the best encouragement to continue with our development strategy. The assessment was also a welcome confirmation of the quality of the research output produced by DFI members, which was the highest rated element of our submission. This work can now be consulted online. The creation of the Institute should allow progress on other elements of our original submission to the RAE, not least overall environment and infrastructure.
Most of our members are now based in the Phoenix Building, which provides excellent facilities for collaborative research and makes it possible to showcase results and welcome visitors for presentations and live demonstrations. As an illustration, we have been able to organise several plenary meetings for large European research projects as well as the inaugural meeting of our FP7 Network of Excellence on Interactive Storytelling.
The Institute is host to a number of high-profile international research projects, mostly funded by the 6th and 7th Framework Programmes of the European Commission and Teesside University plays a leading role in two of them in terms of project co-ordination or management. We collaborate with some of the best institutions and research groups in the UK and the rest of Europe, as well as with major industrial players in telecommunications, software services and broadcasting.
We have selected one of these projects, CALLAS, whose acronym epitomises multimodality, to showcase recent results at the interface between digital technology and digital content. The CALLAS project develops a new generation of affective interfaces, which aim at capturing the user experience in the context of art and entertainment. Research from this project has already produced demonstrable results in the field of multimodal affective fusion, and in the use of emotional speech recognition. Its ‘emotional tree’ demonstrator was presented at the ICT 2008 conference, which showcased results from all current ICT European projects and was one of the few selected to illustrate news coverage of this event.
In several areas, such as immersive visualisation, interactive storytelling and multimodal affective interfaces, our research results have the potential to develop into new technologies, and we are certainly interested to hear from anyone willing to exploit these as part of the University’s various initiatives in digital technologies.
We now plan to consolidate our research activities around a smaller number of themes, as well as establishing collaborations between these themes. The primary objective of our research strategy remains to be able to compete at an international level on selected research topics.
For the Institute to fulfil its mission within the University research strategy, and to be able to support teaching and enterprise, we will however continue to host a range of activities, which in the past have played an important role in maintaining our research base.
We hope that through our recent results and our developing reputation, and by taking advantage of our new facilities, we will be increasingly able to attract recognised researchers from the UK and overseas to Teesside.
Professor Marc Cavazza
Director, Digital Futures Institute