Qualifications & Memberships

Research Interests

At the intersection of gaming, human-computer interaction (HCI), and immersive VR/MR/AR technologies, my research is focused on enhancing user experiences and understanding their potential to redefine our lifestyle, communication, and collaboration. By exploring how these interfaces can enhance real-virtual interaction, remote collaboration, augmented abilities, and apply game design for learning and productivity, I aim to provide valuable insights for the design of innovative 3D user interfaces and other technological advancements.

Through QUADRIC, a research group dedicated to developing solutions for unique challenges in Aotearoa's agriculture, mental health, and sustainability sectors, we integrate intuitive intelligent user interfaces (IUIs) and extended reality (XR) systems. Our focus is to elevate understandability, trust, and overall efficacy in human-AI interaction.

Acknowledging human qualia - individual subjective experiences - is crucial to our mission. It shapes our approach to UX design, emotional and cognitive modeling, personalisation, and ethics. We aim to foster effective, satisfying interactions between humans and AI by creating immersive, intuitive, and ethically sound technologies.

Our objectives include 'Agents,' exploring optimal AI autonomy levels; 'Humans,' enhancing experiential learning and collaboration through IUIs for XR systems; 'Augment,' enhancing human perception and cognition with IUIs in XR; and 'Aotearoa,' focusing on local challenges through IUI-based solutions. Ultimately, our goal is to enrich human lives and ensure AI aligns with Aotearoa's societal norms and values.

Recent Publications

  • Piumsomboon T., Lee Y. and Punpongsanon P. (2023) Editorial: Supernatural enhancements of perception, interaction, and collaboration in mixed reality. Frontiers in Virtual Reality 4 http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/frvir.2023.1132921.
  • Dong Z., Zhang J., Bai X., Clark A., Lindeman R., He W. and Piumsomboon T. (2022) Touch-Move-Release: Studies of Surface and Motion Gestures for Mobile Augmented Reality. Frontiers in Virtual Reality http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/frvir.2022.927258.
  • Piumsomboon T., Ong G., Urban C., Ens B., Topliss J., Bai X. and Hoermann S. (2022) Ex-Cit XR: Expert-elicitation and validation of Extended Reality visualisation and interaction techniques for disengaging and transitioning users from immersive virtual environments. Frontiers in Virtual Reality 3 http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/frvir.2022.943696.
  • Thanyadit S., Punpongsanon P., Piumsomboon T. and Pong TC. (2022) XR-LIVE: Enhancing Asynchronous Shared-Space Demonstrations with Spatial-temporal Assistive Toolsets for Effective Learning in Immersive Virtual Laboratories. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction 6(CSCW1) http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/3512983.
  • Zhang J., Dong Z., Bai X., Lindeman RW., He W. and Piumsomboon T. (2022) Augmented Perception Through Spatial Scale Manipulation in Virtual Reality for Enhanced Empathy in Design-Related Tasks. Frontiers in Virtual Reality 3 http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/frvir.2022.672537.

As a Lecturer in Applied Immersive Game Design at the School of Product Design | Te Kura Hanga Otinga, Dr Thammathip (Tham) Piumsomboon believes the question to ask is not ‘how to do it’, but ‘why’.

Tham’s interest in computing has evolved from his early days as a student at the University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha (UC). While he initially enrolled to study Engineering, he soon switched to Computer Science – despite only just knowing how to use Excel at the time.

Tham graduated with a B.Sc in Computer Science and Physics in 2003, and after living in New Zealand for seven years, chose to return to Thailand to complete his national service, first as a Forensic Scientist and then as a Computer Forensic Specialist with the Royal Thai Police. This revived his interest in computer science, prompting him to study for his M.Sc at the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand.

After graduating in 2008 with a specialisation in Physics Engines, Tham approached Professor Mark Billinghurst at UC’s Human Interface Laboratory New Zealand (HIT Lab NZ) about possible opportunities, taking up a role as a research assistant to enable him to also complete his Ph.D.

“Mark gave me the opportunity to launch my career – he is a very generous mentor and continues to be my role model to this day,” says Tham.

“My first job was editing video where I learnt a lot about motivation and developing the story behind advanced human-computer interfaces, especially in Augmented Reality. That is the most important point; not to ask how to do it, but why. It’s something that continues to motivate me in my research today.”

During his PhD, Tham gained valuable experience at prestigious research institutes, including the MxR Lab at the University of Southern California, and the Multimedia, Interaction and Communication group at Microsoft Research in the US.

In his final year, he moved to Tokyo as a Unity Director in an Augmented Reality (AR) start up, QuiverVision, developing mobile AR colouring applications. Before joining UC, he was a Research Fellow at the Empathic Computing Laboratory at the University of South Australia.

Tham’s research area is in Human-Computer Interaction, with a focus on enhancing human perception through advanced interface technology. His research includes developing novel AR/MR/VR interfaces and interaction techniques, remote collaboration using collaborative MR interfaces and telepresence systems, and human perception manipulation through immersive technology.

“One of my favourites is Gesture-Speech Interface for AR. In this system, users can use hands for a direct manipulation or speech and gestures to manipulate virtual contents indirectly.”

However, his current research is into Empathic Computing, which uses technology to create deeper shared understanding or empathy between people, as well as Mixed Reality (MR) technology to provide an immersive experience.

“I explore how MR technology can be applied to creating Empathic Computing experiences. This includes exploring how to share gaze in a remote collaboration between AR and VR environments, using physiological signals to enhance collaborative VR, and supporting interaction through eye-gaze in AR/MR/VR.”

Tham has published and disseminated his research at top computer science conferences, served on a number of prestigious committees and reviewed for many high impact journals and conferences.

By teaching Immersive Game Design, Tham is able to help students learn the fundamentals of immersive interfaces.

“Games really drive the momentum of the industry. While immersive interfaces are still at the stage of early adopters, they will soon be an integrated part of our everyday products, shaping how we interact among ourselves and the environment we inhabit.”