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New Technology and Digital Research (NTi)

New Technology and Digital Research

NTI is host to the Digital Research area which provides an "umbrella" for those research activities at Leeds Beckett University which address the development and application of digital technology and the social, cultural, economic, and political aspects of digitization. Many of the core activities stem from work in the School of Computing, Creative Technologies and Engineering, but the Centre also includes researchers from other schools within and outside the Faculty of Arts, Environment and Technology who are working on topics related to digital technology. It is open across our university to include researchers in collaborative projects, related to the core topics of this Centre.


The mission of the Digital Research Centre is to foster research, development, and inquiry in the realm of digital technology and its applications. It does this by providing a structure to the research activities of its members, which allows most effective encouragement, support, and exploitation of research. The Digital Research Centre will strive towards research excellence and will make this excellence available to the wider community. As a strand of the NTI the Digital Research Centre will support the other key function of NTI work, Career Professional Development and Enterprise.

The centre is co-chaired by Professor Eddie Halpin and Professor Colin Pattinson (both of the Faculty of Arts, Environment and Technology).

Areas of Expertise

Human-Computer Interaction
The interface between humans and computer systems is more than mouse, keyboard and screen: new intuitive methods of engaging with information systems include visual methods such as Virtual and Augmented Reality as well as Computer Vision. The use of these concepts give rise to "persuasive technology" which is more adapted to human needs and can enable more intuitive interaction with computers and the information which they can provide. This can in particular be applied in the context of technology-enhanced learning, where computer games and the ability to model and simulate complex scenarios can foster a deeper understanding of fundamental principles. The expertise in this research realm includes Visual Media, Computer Graphics, and Computer Games.

Machine Intelligence – Dr J Elliott
Advancements in computer technology and artificial intelligence have allowed the development of systems which can act in ways that appear to emulate human intelligence. Technologies in this realm are pattern recognition, image and signal processing, reasoning, natural language understanding, and semantic computing. Such systems have the ability to transform computers from simple machines into autonomous systems which can execute tasks in partnership with humans. Several externally funded projects in this realm provide a solid expertise to build on.

Mobile / Ubiquitous Computing, Converging Technologies, Networking – Professor C Pattinson
This theme focuses on the development of mobile and connected applications, with the goal of easing and increasing access to information anywhere. Mobile phones are one such delivery platform, but other methods are included. Possible applications are for example the local heritage/tourism sector and the security sector. There have been successful projects in the past (e.g. "Our Music, Our City") which used the location awareness of mobile phones. Also related to mobile applications is the supporting networking technology, allowing rapid and secure distribution of digital information, again this is a source of existing research projects.

Green IT – Professor C Pattinson
Concerns over the sustainability of growth has led to investigations into the environmental impact of information technology, leading to research and development activities for novel concepts which utilise existing resources in a responsible way. This involves the optimisation of several aspects of IT with regards to power consumption and environmental impact: technological components, managing data flow, configuration of systems, and interacting between humans and digital systems. We have a record of success with external funding in this area, and this research is an important link between the Digital and Sustainability Research Institutes.

Assistive Technologies – Dr M Fabri
Digital technology has revolutionised the way in which humans are able to communicate, discover new things and generally manage their daily lives. This has a deep impact on individuals, communities and society as a whole, one which has not yet been fully explored as the underlying technology is still evolving. R&D in this area can also have a direct impact on the practice at Leeds Beckett, with regards to student support and the change of teaching practice. The group is looking into two areas in particular: the use of technology to facilitate positive behaviour change, and widening access to Higher Education for students with autism, a project funded by the EU Lifelong Learning programme. These areas offer the opportunity for the Centre to interact with other groups within the University and beyond.

Computers and Art / Music – Dr N Stavropoulos
Digital technology allows new forms of artistic expression, which were not previously possible. This relates to interactive dynamic art using sensor systems, new ways of creating and performing music compositions (e.g. electro-acoustic, acousmatic), new ways of generating visual and graphic art (e.g. panoramic video).

Information Management and Social Informatics - Professor E Halpin
This research theme was a key part of our last three RAE / REF submissions. The work in this theme explores the principles of organising information, managing optimal flow of information in organisations, the impact of certain human behavioural aspects in decision making and the ways in which digitisation (in its broadest sense) is affecting human interaction and governance.

Software Engineering - Dr M Ramachandran
Computing systems rely on software. In order to produce software which is manageable and can be maintained and reused, specific principles have to be employed in the software development process. In recent years, these processes have been adapted and extended to cover mobile devices and cloud computing. New challenges in this realm continuously arise, as computing technology keeps advancing, and computing systems become more complex. Our focus is on research and development for the software life cycle process and component reusability.

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