Hans Gellersen is Professor for Interactive Systems at the Department of Computing at Lancaster, and is doing some interesting work concerning ubiquitous computing and physical/digital interfaces. Well....I'll let him explain:
"My research interest is in Ubiquitous Computing and human-computer systems that "take the real world into the loop": context-aware computing, situated user interfaces, augmented everyday artefacts. Specific interests are integration of sensors and perception in interactive systems, interaction with large numbers of networked artefacts, new interaction techniques, and mobile/wearable collaborative applications.
Smart-Its is a European project I co-ordinate within the Disappearing Computer initiative. The project investigates small-scale embedded devices that can be attached to everyday objects to augment them with sensing, perception, computation, and communication. These "Smart-Its" are enabling technology for building and testing ubiquitous computing scenarios, and are used in the project to investigate collective context-awareness of peer-to-peer ad hoc networked artefacts. This video provides an overview of the ideas and scenarios we explore in the project.
Equator is a collaboration of 8 institutions in the UK for interdisciplinary research on "Technical Innovation in Physical and Digital Life". The project aims to uncover and support a variety of possible relationships between physical and digital worlds, and at Lancaster we are focussing on how sensing and computing infrastructure can be unobtrusively merged with everyday artefacts and structures in domestic environments.
Pin&Play, another EC-funded project, investigates augmentation of common vertical surfaces such as walls and boards with embedded conductive material, to enable them as network bus for objects that become pushpin-attached."