The Aston Interactive Media (AIM) Lab

Aston Interactive Media laboratory
Aston Interactive Media laboratory
The Aston Interactive Media (AIM) Lab is dedicated to research into, and development and evaluation of, innovative interactive media. The lab’s novel design and infrastructure establish it as a facility that is unique in the UK, capable of supporting innovative research as well as  industry-led design of interaction-based technologies.  The lab’s  novel facilities make it ideally equipped to support innovation in the field of mobile interactive technologies and the evolution and application of effective approaches to the evaluation of such technologies.

One of the biggest challenges facing the evolution and successful design of interactive media – and in particular, mobile hardware and software – is the establishment of effective mechanisms by which to meaningfully evaluate the feasibility and usability of innovative technological designs. 

Typically, evaluations of mobile technologies are not undertaken in realistic mobile environments; users are normally either required to interact with technology in a stationary setting or, albeit mobile, are placed under no requirement to monitor or interact with environmental components representative of the real world. Although existing approaches can highlight generic or cosmetic feasibility or usability issues, they do not adequately test mobile technologies under realistic, real use contexts.

Whilst field trials can address some of these issues, mobile technologies typically require extensive evaluation in controlled settings prior to being ready for field study protocols, and field studies by necessity typically focus less (compared to lab-based studies) on usability and more on other aspects of user behaviour.

We are continuously evolving, developing and empirically validating this unique resource which can benefit not only industrial partners but also academic and student-based research in the field of mobile technologies. Recent projects have included assessing the safety of texting while walking in a busy environment (which led to coverage on the radio, television and the press, including the New York Daily News), effective use of speech input in noisy environments (such as off-shore drilling platforms), and designing interfaces for biomedical devices such as pacemakers.

AIM Lab Manager, Dr Jo Lumsden, considers the AIM Lab “to be a lab with evolutionary ideals: the AIM Lab is pushing the boundaries of mobile evaluation thinking and, is so doing, is contributing to the ongoing evolution of mobile technologies, making them safer and easier to use”.

For additional information on the AIM Lab, please contact: Dr Jo Lumsden, AIM Lab Manager, Tel: +44 (0)121 204 3470, email: j.lumsden@aston.ac.uk