Portrait of Tim Regan

Tim Regan

Senior Research Software Development Engineer


Research Interests

  • Human-computer interaction (HCI)
  • Social computing / social software
  • Data visualization
  • Content futures (media sharing, mobile media, the future of the book)

Current Projectwork

  • Visualizing book texts
  • Book futures
  • Collaborative media annotations 



Book Visualization project thumbnail BookViz: Abstract visualizations of the texts of (children’s) book series

The digital world of computers has impacted the world of books profoundly. The way books are produced and printed has been revolutionised, and the way we share our enthusiasm for the books we love has been enriched beyond recognition by the internet. What is next? While there is much focus on digital replacements for paper, in this project I wanted to look at using the analytical and display powers of computers to enhance our reading and understanding of texts, especially children’s book series.

PhotoBox project thumbnail A wooden box that randomly prints a picture out every few weeks.

This project’s not written up externally yet as we’re still working with Dave Kirk on a long term deployment, but I was very excited to join Richard Banks and Mark Selby in developping Mark’s PhotoBox idea into a deployable prototype, built over the flickr and twitter APIs. It was odd writing code that needed to act so infrequently!

HomeWatcher project thumbnail Home Network Visualizations: appliance style visualizations of family network use

Part of our ‘revealing the invisible’ theme this project brought together work of the Systems and Networking Group and Socio-Digital Systems. I was involved with Peter Key setting up the project, and then again at the end when I wrote the code to combine Richard’s designs with the Home Watcher back-end into something Marshini could deploy during her internship.

BubbleBoard project thumbnail BubbleBoard: A visual family answerphone for the kitchen (Microsoft, 2006)

BubbleBoard is part of the New Genres of Communication and Situating technology in the home themes we’ve been working on in the group, and I’ve been helping to build the software side. We’ve used internet voicemail to glean the voicemeails. I’m particularly excited by how we’ve split the work on the client between the designer (Richard Banks) working in Flash and me writing the code in ASP.Net running under IIS on the client. Hopfully we’ve got the split right and any design changes that come up during research trials will not impact the logic code. We’ll see.

Grab-and-Share project thumbnail Grab and Share: Using mobile phones to capture, show, and share clips from live broadcast TV (Microsoft, 2006)

Working with broadcasters we’ve been looking at the relationship between broadcast TV and mobile video. We are initially contentrating on a prototype implemented on GPRS/UMTS (and later DAB-IP and DVB-H I hope) that allows users to take clips from broadcast TV onto their mobile phones where they can show them to friends and share them with friends.

CODII project thumbnail CODII: Combatting the onlone dissemination of illegal images (Microsoft, 2005)

This project grows from a working relationship with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). The IWF are the charity who run the UK hotline that helps identify illegal online images in order for them to be removed, especial images of child abuse. The IWF is one of a number of hotlines affiliated to the international association INHOPE. Our approach is to take an understanding of the area gleaned from working with the IWF, and combine it with a technological and social science understanding of online community systems. This combination helps us to build novel and useful tools.

zCast project thumbnail zCast: Datacasting IP media to fixed and mobile devices (Microsoft, 2004)

The zCast project explores the potential of datacasting to provide novel services to the Media Center PC and to mobile devices. With Arqiva we built up the technological infrastructure to do DAB and DVB-T trials across Cambridge. In research we concentrated on the mobile scenarios by building prototypes that utilised the DAB digital radio network to deliver extended radio and broadcast TV to mobile devices. This work is ongoing.

Media Centre Buddies project thumbnail Media Center Buddies: using multiple instant messaging sessions over TV viewing (Microsoft, 2003)

Media Center Buddies looked at the problem of associating instant messaging with TV viewing. I tackled two elements of this scenario. Firstly how can you design a system that takes into account the fact that TV viewing is often not solitary, several friends or family members may all watch together. Secondly how do you have access to incoming instant messages from the distance of your couch but without distracting from the TV broadcast. This research was picked up by the Media Center Team and became their IM integration.

Bumping Windows project thumbnail Bumping Windows: automatic movement of windows accross multiple monitors (Microsoft, 2002)

Window bumping is a technique to automatically move a window, typically from one screen on a multi-monitor system to another. I prototyped three versions of bumping and tested them in the lab on two windows layout tasks. This was part of the ongoing work in Microsoft Research’s VIBE team to improve how PCs handle multiple-monitors, large screens, or heterogeneous displays.

Visual Decision Maker project thumbnail Visual Decision Maker: movie recommendations for co-located users (Microsoft, 2002)

The Visual Decision Maker is an application that gives movie recommendations to groups of people sitting together. The VDM provides a TV like user experience: a stream of movie stills flows towards the center of the screen, and users press buttons on remote controls to vote on the currently selected movie. A collaborative filtering engine provides recommendations for each user and for the group as a whole based on the votes. Three principles guided our design of the VDM: shared focus, dynamic pacing, and encouraging conversations. We did a four month public installation and a lab study to see how these design choices affected people’s usage and people’s experience of the VDM. Our results show that shared focus is important for users to feel that the group’s tastes are represented in the recommendations. This was joint work with Steven Drucker, Markus Lofstrom, and Asta Glatzer.

Shoulder-to-Shoulder project thumbnail Enhanced UI Feedback: shared focus in a puzzle solving task (Microsoft, 2001)

To examine the impacts of enhanced UI feedback on shoulder-to-shoulder computing, we conducted a study using a simple picture puzzle on a computer with one display, two mice, and one keyboard. After adding sound, color differentiation, status indicators, and a graphical history, the accuracy with which subjects reported the actions of the person sitting next to them increased significantly. Participants also took more time to complete the puzzle. Subjects shared the keyboard more when using the enhanced UI. We also found participants sitting to the left of the screen to be considerably more productive across both UIs. This was joint work with Markus Lofstrom.

Asheron's Call project thumbnail Allegiances and Fellowships in Asheron’s Call: studying group interaction and social features in online gaming (Microsoft, 2001)

The aim of this study was to investigate how group membership in an online game affects online and offline social interaction. Our main questions were:1. Do people in online groups socialize more online and offline than people not in groups?2. Do people in online groups have a different attitude towards bad behavior online?We surveyed Asheron’s Call users and logged online game observations to compare the subjective reports with objective measures. The results indicate that group members interact with other players online and offline more than non-group members, and that group members have a different attitude towards bad behavior online than non-group members. This was joint work with Ann-Sofie Axellsson.

Communications Toolbar project thumbnail Communications Toolbar: a lightweight toolbar giving users access to information and communications features (BT, 2000)

The comms toolbar sought to be a permanent minimal presence on user’s desktops for handling communications and other appropriate information. Through news tickers, calendar and email integration, and telephony handling the comms toolbar was to offer a compact alternative to many portal offerings, with the benefit of providing cheaper telephony. I was the delivery manager of the comms toolbar through its prototype and design phase. It was eventually released as part of the BT Openworld home-page. Work with Mark Jessop, Phil Smythe, and Alison Wilard.

Ages of Avatar project thumbnail Ages of Avatar: an Inhabited TV experiment providing an online space for the viewers of a TV channel (BT, 1999)

Ages of Avatar took a TV channel, Sky’s [.tv], and gave its audience an online home: four virtual worlds filled with activities, events, and an unfolding narrative which could then provide content for interstituals on the TV channel. I ran the BT team doing the world design, building, and hosting of the worlds. This was a collaboration between BT’s Shared Spaces team, the production company Illuminations, Sky’s [.tv], students from ITP, and Microsoft’s vworlds team.

Heaven & Hell - Live project thumbnail Heaven and Hell Live: an Inhabited TV experiment to produce live, nationally broadcast, TV from within an online virtual world (BT, 1998)

I ran the BT team for their second experiment into Inhabited TV, this time broadcasting a live TV show from an online virtual world. “Heaven and Hell – Live” was an hour long quiz show where the celebrity contestents needed the collaboration of the inhabitants of the virtual world to successfully complete each quiz round. The show attracted 150 online inhabitants and approximately 200,000 viewers. This was a collaboration between BT’s Shared Spaces team, the production company Illuminations, Channel 4, and Sony’s Community Place team.

The Mirror project thumbnail The Mirror: an Inhabited TV experiment combining each show in a TV series with an online shared 3D world (BT, 1997)

I was initially a developer and then the manager of BT’s first experiment into Inhabited TV, which took the BBC series “The Net” and combined it with six virtual worlds, each adopting the theme of one programme in the series. The worlds were then offered to the viewers of the series, giving them the chance to become inhabitants, with their activities reflected back as news items in the TV shows. Over 1100 viewers took part over a seven week period. This was a collaboration between BT’s Shared Spaces team, the production company Illuminations, the BBC’s Multimedia Centre, and Sony’s Community Place team.

Additional Publications

Additional Publications