Four new labs open at Surrey

Nov 13, 2003, vol. 28, no. 6
By Terry Lavender

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Faculty and students at SFU Surrey are using four recently opened applied research labs to study everything from interactive clothing to internet customer loyalty.

The labs are financed through the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the B.C. Knowledge Development fund and private donations. They include a variety of specialized equipment, such as immersive three-dimensional computer displays and modellers that can create plaster prototypes from computer drawings, “what you could call a three-dimensional printer,” says lab manager Gordon Pritchard.

The four labs are:

• The shared virtual environment lab, used to explore computer-generated 3-dimensional characters, tactile sensations and other technologies;

• The InfoNet media lab, which focuses on image and video processing, computer graphics and human-computer interaction;

• The InterActivity lab, where new interactivity tools and techniques are developed and studied, from small numeric-pad driven interfaces to full body, multi-sensory interaction; and

• The electronic commerce, communication and communities usability lab, which supports research in the human and user component of technology development, such as the user's comfort level while shopping on the internet.

The labs are being used for research projects such as whisper, a joint project of Thecla Schiphorst, Julie Tolmie and Susan Kozel. According to the researchers, whisper (wearable, handheld, intimate, sensory, personal, expressive, responsive system) builds upon physical practices such as dance improvisation, manifesting cultural and scientific theories of embodiment to inform and to iterate sister methodologies in design, engineering and computing science.

“I would like to do more work with movement quality from wearable computers,” Kozel says. “I think a lot can be said about how our bodies adapt to computers. It can give us new ways of movement and help us design better computer interfaces.”

Another project under way in the new labs is the managing E-loyalty through experience design study, headed by Dianne Cyr. Her team is studying how consumer loyalty on the internet relates to how the shopper's internet experience is designed.

“To date, little attention has been paid to how trust and e-loyalty are developed in e-business contexts, especially with reference to cross-cultural differences,” Cyr says.

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