Portrait of Sean Rintel

Sean Rintel

Senior Principal Research Manager

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Microsoft at CHI 2024

BREW has 2 full papers and 3 LBWs among the 33 Accepted Papers, 3 Workshops, 1 Panel, 1 Case Study, 1 Interactivity, and 1 Special Interest Group at…


I am a sociologist of communication technology and human-computer interaction (opens in new tab), exploring remote and hybrid work at Microsoft Research Cambridge UK.

My research group

I currently lead the Blended Reality for Effective Workflows (BREW) (opens in new tab) research group. We investigate how remote/hybrid teams can feel present and achieve goals throughout the workday, from meetings and events to ambient awareness and spontaneous encounters.


My training is ethnomethodological, drawing on video-recorded conversations and ethnographic data, and analysing that data using qualitative methods such as conversation analysis and membership categorisation analysis. I specialized in field research but also conduct interview, diary, and survey studies, as well as lab-based studies of prototypes. Increasingly, however, I combine qualitative with quantitative approaches, such as surveys and telemetry, to answer questions at scale.


I have been a member of 5 global category first-place winning projects in Microsoft OneWeek Hackathons, including one global Grand Prize winner. You can read about one of these that became a feature in our Garage Wall of Fame post Mobile Sharing and Companion Experiences for Microsoft Teams Meetings (opens in new tab). One day I might even be able to say what the other ones were! 😉


I received my PhD in 2010 in the field of Sociology specializing in Communication, from the University at Albany, State University of New York (opens in new tab). My dissertation was chaired by Professor Emerita Anita Pomerantz with committee members Professor Teresa Harrison, Professor Glenna Spitze, and Professor Ronald Jacobs.

Prior to working at Microsoft, I was a Lecturer in Strategic Communication at The University of Queensland (opens in new tab), Brisbane, Australia.

I have been a PC member of CHI and CSCW several times and review for many major HCI, communication, and technology journals and conferences. I was the Senior Editor of the Communication Technology section of the online Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication. I have guest-edited special issues of Human Computer Interaction, the Electronic Journal of Communication. and the Australian Journal of Communication. I co-chaired the Microsoft 2020 New Future of Work Symposium (opens in new tab) (with Gloria Mark) and the 2012 conference of the Australasian Institute of Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis (with Richard Fitzgerald).

Digital Advocacy

I am the former Chair and a former Board Member of Electronic Frontiers Australia, a non-profit group advocating for digital access, freedom, and privacy.