Every day, huge numbers of people interact with information, and each other, via a diverse set of systems that combine computing and communication. These systems include desktop computers, shared computer clusters, the internet, mobile phones, tablets, cameras and cars. Yet, while the amount of information online inexorably increases, our systems remain less usable and useful than they should be, with problems at the interface between human and system.
Today, the commonest case of information access involves an individual person sitting at a computer screen, typing a query in English a search engine. This time-worn model of interaction is out of date; but going beyond it demands a new approach to human-information interaction which combines an understanding of people, and information, and the interactions between them: individual human intellectual and social abilities; means of structuring vast amounts of information; and ways of exploiting multiple rich communication channels.
Within Scotland, we have a range of world-leading expertise that can address the problems of human-computer interaction, and especially the new dimensions of interfaces which are opened up by multimodal information processing capacity. There is a broad range of work going on internationally, considering both conventional, textual ways of accessing multimodal information (such as video), and also unconventional, multimodal ways (such as gesture) of accessing information, multimodal or otherwise. The groups in Scotland have traditionally had different emphases: for instance, in Glasgow, information retrieval and human-computer interaction; or in Edinburgh, information extraction, and other language technologies, and speech recognition and synthesis.