Portrait of Richard Banks

Richard Banks

Principal Design Manager


I work in the Human Experience & Design group with Abigail Sellen, and  run the design team for the Microsoft Research lab in Cambridge, UK as a whole. We put an emphasis on multi-disciplinary team work, crossing the boundaries of technology, creativity and society.

We focus on the design of new user experiences for people’s everyday lives. Life is complex, often frantic and unique to each individual, family and workplace.  Traditional software and technology solutions don’t usually fit smoothly into it. We’re looking at ways in which technology can fit into the complexities of life, rather then insisting on the reverse.


Physical Charts

Established: September 23, 2014

The physical charts are an attempt to make data and data visualisations legible to ordinary people in their daily lives. In response to the increasing sophistication of data visualisations and the seemingly unquestioning quest for novelty, the charts make playful use of long established and highly familiar representations like pie charts and bar graphs. Rather than estrange viewers, the objective is to enable them to, at a glance, engage with and comprehend data. The Physical…


Established: July 10, 2014

Climatology gives you climate information for anywhere on Earth: temperature, rain and sunniness. Whether finding where are the warm, dry places to go on holiday in December, or avoiding rain for your wedding, to finding out what the climate is like in Kazakhstan in April, Climatology allows you to discover the information you want. As of June 30th 2016, the Climatology app will be closing due to the completion of our research project and no…


Established: December 10, 2012

Digits is a wrist-worn sensor that recovers the full 3D pose of the user's hand without requiring any external sensing infrastructure or covering the hand itself (unlike data gloves). The system targets mobile settings and is specifically designed to be low-power and easily reproducible using only off-the-shelf hardware. We demonstrate the utility of Digits for a variety of application scenarios, including 3D gaming and eyes-free interaction on the move. Image Gallery

The Future of Writing

Established: November 16, 2011

The Future of Writing was a design project commisioned by Microsoft Research Cambridge and the Microsoft Office team, in the summer of 2011, from the Royal College of Art in London. In this project five teams of design alumni from the college took a speculative approach to looking at the way in which authorship may change in the future. The result is five very diverse design ideas and directions, described using video, text, images and…

Things We’ve Learnt About…

Established: August 3, 2011

"Things We've Learnt About.." is a regular publication from the Socio-Digital Systems team that summarises our work around a specific theme in a way that we hope is interesting, insightful and inspirational. And most importantly, succinct. The magazine is available as a free PDF, or can be bought in print form. Our Motivation A lot of the written material that we produce in Socio-Digital Systems is directed very much at an academic audience. Through conferences…

A Memory Making System

Established: May 10, 2010

This system, created in the Socio-Digital Systems group, examines the issue of family archiving and presents a system designed to enable families to capture, manage, create and store new kinds of digital memorabilia. The system, using Microsoft Surface as its hub, shows how families can upload photos and videos quickly and easily, and scan in physical objects, such as children’s artwork or a child’s first pair of shoes. The system enables families to view these media…









The Future of Writing
Professor Anthony Dunne, Richard Banks, Alex Taylor, Onkar Kular, David Benqué, Dash Macdonald, Demitrios Kargotis, Kobe Barhad, Nicolas Myers, Sascha Pohflepp, Chris Woebken, Kellenberger–White, Tim Regan, October 1, 2011, View abstract, Download PDF


Opening Up the Family Archive
Dave Kirk, Shahram Izadi, Abigail Sellen, Stuart Taylor, Richard Banks, Otmar Hilliges, in Proceedings of ACM Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Work (CSCW 2010), Association for Computing Machinery, Inc., February 1, 2010, View abstract, Download PDF






In addition to project work I maintain a blog about technology trends. This primarily contains pointers and extracts from articles about new technologies and the ways in which people are using them.