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The Human Interface Technology Laboratory New Zealand (HIT Lab NZ) is developing and commercializing technology that improves human computer interaction and by doing so unlocks the power of human intelligence. The HIT Lab NZ conducts research with new emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality, Next Generation Video Conferencing, Immersive Visualization and Human-Robot Interaction. Interaction Design techniques are used to adapt these technologies to the needs of end users and solve real world problems. The end goal is to improve the user experience with technology.

Is Lego destroying your children's soul? -Dr Bartneck on Seven Sharp

This is a short video clip from Seven Sharp interviewing Dr Christoph Bartneck regarding his previous research on LEGO Minifigure.

 Media's response towards this study has been verwhelming and it seems the sensation the study brought is still on.

Please see the video at:

07 Apr 2014

UC researchers believe robots can persuade people

24 March 2014

A team of University of Canterbury (UC) researchers and scientists believe robots can persuade people to conform through group pressure.

PhD student Juergen Brandstetter has been exploring how a group of robots can actually influence people when their numbers are in the majority.

Brandstetter surveyed almost 50 people in a room, one at a time with four robots. Results were promising and largely confirmed that the robots could encourage a single person to conform with the group.

One of the tests included speaking in the past tense and the evidence from the survey suggested robots can influence language and further influence human opinion.

"Even though each person knew exactly what was right or wrong, the person unintentionally agreed with the group of robots a significant number of times.

"Our results showed that robots can induce conformity but to a significantly lesser degree than humans. We also found that there is substantial difference between visual and the verbal tasks. But we are convinced robots are capable of changing our behaviour even though they are still not as influential as humans can be.

"We measured the impact robots have on the English language and looked at the conformity rate robots have on people. The results showed...

23 Mar 2014

UC game named in top 10 global sciences games

A University of Canterbury (UC) computer game about protecting native forests has been named one of the top 10 global sciences games by a leading UK newspaper.

The Guardian paper says the new generation of online games don't just provide entertainment, they help scientists solve puzzles involving genes, conservation and the universe.

The UC-designed game Ora, listed as one of the best 10 science games, is an ecological adventure game saving the native forests of New Zealand.

Hazel Bradshaw, a UC HIT Lab NZ PhD student who designed and developed Ora, says the game is not just for geeks in lab coats but for people to immerse themselves in the game world and play to help save forests.

Gamers are charged with taking care of a plot of New Zealand forest and protecting it from ravenous possums. They can set traps, create sanctuaries or fly aerial operations to sow toxic bait to save a virtual forest.

The design allows the translation of complex problems into fun and engaging gameplay, with the goal of allowing the general population to get involved and contribute to serious research topics through play,’’ Bradshaw says.

Landcare Research has teamed up with the HIT Lab NZ at UC to find a new way to present scientific research and find out how people want to manage their forests: a computer game based on real data and models of pest and tree dynamics and management options.

Ora is a totally different way of making research results available for others to learn from. The game is based on real-life data and models of forest-pest-management interactions, putting knowledge at gamers’ fingertips in a fun-filled ecosystem adventure.

Players’ actions tackling the complex problems of pest control will feed back into research on control strategies, with the potential to influence management decisions.

The game is all about...

17 Feb 2014

Science that will change our lives: Wearable computer ready for market

NZ researchers are at the forefront of a ground-breaking invention that could change the way we view the world around us. Jamie Morton reports in the final of a series on how scientific discoveries are affecting our lives

Google Glass projects a virtual computer screen into the field of vision of the wearer.


Despite whatever else 2014 enters the history books for, it's likely to be remembered as the year that saw the birth of everyday wearable computing.

It wasn't long ago that being physically attached to cyberspace was a concept limited to science fiction, but now it's set to become reality.

And it's not the first time the world has seen such a transition - the Star Trek communicator is now the iPhone, video conferencing first shown in 2001: A Space Odyssey has evolved into Skype, and electric cars shown in 1982's Blade Runner now drive on our streets.

The age of wearable technology will be ushered in this year with the release into the consumer market of Google Glass, the headworn gadget that allows you to check recipes while you cook, share what you see as you see it, speak to send a message and ask whatever's on your mind.

Essentially, wearable computers are computers that are worn on the body and are always on, always accessible, and always aware of the user and their surroundings.

But the concept isn't new: it dates back to the 1960s, with early efforts to develop hidden computers that could help people beat the casinos.

In the 50 years since, it has evolved from bulky backpack computers to devices that can be worn on the head.

However, most wearables have been confined to research labs or niche applications like the military.

Scheduled for introduction this year, Google Glass is the first...

13 Jan 2014

Study on semi-automatic color analysis for brand logos featured on Radio New Zealand

Adrian Clark and Christoph Bartneck from the HIT Lab at the University of Canterbury have developed a software tool that can semi-automatically analyse colour in large sets of graphics. The were interviewd by Radio New Zealand to talk about their study.

The Human Interface Technology Laboratory or HITLabNZ at the University of Canterbury develops technology to help improve human computer interaction. Christoph Bartneck is interested in colour, as it’s used in various logos and brands, for example. In particular he’s been wondering about the possibility of fully automating the analysis of colour by computer. To do that he enlisted the help of post-doctoral researcher Adrian Clark, who works in the field of computer vision.

As Adrian and Christoph tell Alison Ballance, they began working on the problem using a rather unusual data set – 194 national flags – before analysing the logos of some large financial institutions, and they soon discovered that it was not possible to fully automate the process, as computers are not as clever as people at recognising colour.

They eventually settled on 12 colours, and found that the most popular colours were, in descending order, red, white, green and dark blue, making up 75% of the surface in all flags. The most popular two-colour combination was red and blue.

A correlation between economic status of countries and the colour of their flags showed that white was strongly correlated with economically strong countries, while green was associated with poorer countries, especially in Africa. You can read about their results in the paper ‘Semi-automatic color analysis for brand logos’.

19 Dec 2013

Call for Participation- CHINZ 2013

The 14th Annual ACM SIGCHI_NZ conference on Computer-Human Interaction will provide a forum for researchers and practitioners involved with Human Computer Interaction in New Zealand or other parts of the world. 
The CHINZ 2013 Conference will be held on November 15 - 16 at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.
CHINZ 2013 aims to bring together people interested in any aspect of HCI and Interaction Design, to allow them to share their experiences, exchange their ideas, learn from one another, and promote collaboration in research and development. 
We are encouraging submissions and participation from a broad range of disciplines, including, but not limited to Computer and Information Science, Psychology, Design, Human Factors, and Interactive Arts.
The conference website will shortly be available at:
Important dates
Friday, September 27th - CHINZ Submission Deadline
Monday, October 14th - Response to authors
Friday, November 1st - Camera-ready copies
Friday, November 15th - Conference starts
Saturday, November 16th - Conference ends
Paper templates
Please use the standard ACM paper templates for paper submission (available at:
We welcome full-length research papers of up to 8 pages in length and short papers of up to four pages in length (e.g. work-in-progress, case-studies, industrial perspectives, and system demonstrations) in all relevant areas of HCI and Interaction Design. 
In particular, we strongly encourage submissions by graduate students. Submissions should report original work, and will be reviewed. Accepted papers will be presented at the conference, published in the conference proceedings, and the ACM Digital Library. 
Full papers should be no more than 8 pages in length, and short papers should be between 2 and 4 pages. Details of the required format and submission process are available on the conference website.
Workshops and Demonstrations
Workshop and Demonstration proposals are also invited for consideration. We encourage half-day workshops on HCI, Interaction Design or Computer Graphic Design topics, which are suitable for academics and practitioners. A two-page proposal, including information on the workshop's topic, abstract, and intended audience should be submitted by the due date. We encourage you to bring your demonstrations to the conference. Please provide a 1 page description (preferably including a picture or video) and send it to the program chair.
Best student paper prizes
SIGCHI-NZ will offer a best student paper prize of $300 to any paper submitted (co-authored) and presented by a student from any of the New Zealand universities. As well as this, the top five papers (that have a student as first author) will also receive a few student registration to the conference.
More Information
For more information please contact:
Mark Billinghurst 
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CHI 2013 Conference Chair 
Stuart Marshall
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CHI 2013 Program Chair

HITLabNZ goes on-site to develop an app to take you into the past


The HITLab recently went to Central Otago to fine tune and demonstrate their new Android App called Goldfield Explorer (working title). Check out the news coverage in the link below.




Seminar TODAY: David Altimira - Exertion Games

Today, Wednesday the 3th of July at 2pm, David Altimira will be giving a talk about his PhD research into Exertion Games.


Exertion games combine elements from traditional digital games and physical activity. They can help encourage people to do more physical exercise, which can bring mental, health and social benefits. I am focusing on social non-parallel games: games that are played by two players where the performance of one player affects the other one. As an example I chose to study table tennis. In this context, playing with another player can be engaging. However, players with different skill levels can experience anxiety or boredom, which can lead to a decrease of engagement. I am studying play balancing adjustments that try to equalise the change of winning and support the players' experience. I will present what I have done and what I will do during the PhD and the expected outcome on play balancing adjustments in the context of exertion games.  


See you there!


Summer Scholarships at the HIT Lab NZ

A UC Summer Research Scholarship provides the opportunity for a student to work on a supervised research project for 400 hours (approximately 10 weeks) over the summer period (November 2013 – February 2014).

Students receive a $5,000 stipend.

We have six exciting Summer Scholarship projects at the HIT Lab NZ:

  • Mobile augmented reality for field-based athletic assessment
  • Web-based authoring tool for outdoor augmented reality application
  • Interactive and immersive 3D visualization system
  • Serious game data assessment
  • Data collection helmet for rural fire fighters
  • Virtual interfaces applied to a public safety scenario 

Information about the UC Summer Scholarship programme and the details of all of the projects is available here


Seminar: High-Quality Real-Time Global Illumination in Augmented Reality - TOMORROW Wednesday 29th May

Tomorrow, Wednesday the 29th of May, at 2pm, Peter Kan will be giving a seminar on his PhD research, titled "High-Quality Real-Time Global Illumination in Augmented Reality"

The presentation is focused on the topic of high-quality rendering for augmented reality. This topic is held as my PhD research at Vienna University of Technology.

With the aim of achieving visual coherence between virtual and real objects the algorithms for light source estimation, light transport calculation, material simulation, camera optics, and compositing are presented. Other projects from Virtual Reality Group at TU Vienna will be discussed as well. Finally I will describe the user study which is the topic of my research in HITLab NZ.

See you all there!

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