Human Computer Interaction and Multimedia Lab

android with VR headset on © Shutterstock

The HCI Lab is a research facility in the Computer Science Department of the University of Canterbury. Our goal is to understand human-factors in computer use, and to use this knowledge to create interfaces that are faster to learn, more efficient to use, and more subjectively satisfying than the current state of the art. We value scientific repeatability, and we are proud of our strong reputation for conducting sound experiments that empirically characterise aspects of usability and which reveal definitive and repeatable performance gains.

The excellent reputation of the lab, combined with the compelling natural attractions of the stunning South Island of New Zealand, make the lab an appealing destination for sabbatical leave. If you are interested in visiting or working with the HCI Lab, contact the director Prof. Dr. Andy Cockburn.

Members of the HCI Lab are most interested in improving interaction with desktop, laptop, and mobile computer systems. We also work closely with the HIT Lab New Zealand, which investigates advanced technology for interaction, particularly that based on virtual and augmented reality.


Refer to the publications page to see prior years’ work


Postdoctoral Researchers

Current Students

  • Joshua Leung
  • Thammathip Piumsomboon
  • Philip Quinn
  • Joey Scarr


  • Stephen Fitchett, PhD
  • Joel Harrison
  • Christina Dicke, PhD
  • Ben McDonald, MSc
  • Dominic Winkler, MSc
  • Susanne Tak, PhD
  • Volkert Buchmann, PhD
  • Jason Alexander, PhD
  • Taher Amer, MSc
  • Trond Nilsen, MSc
  • Tim Wright, PhD
  • Philip Brock
  • Carey Bishop
  • Julian Looser, PhD
  • Joerg Hauber, PhD
  • Keith Humm
  • Michael JasonSmith, PhD
  • Andrew Barrett
  • David Mitchell
  • Michael Moyle
  • Josh Savage, MSc
  • Ben Schmidt, MSc
  • Amal Siresena
  • Matt Smith
  • Andrew Wallace


CommandMap: an efficient command-selection interface.

  • Software and study materials.


Blur is a novel overlay interface for Windows that allows quick execution of commands without sacrificing learnability. Blur is developed and maintained by Joey Scarr at the Human-Computer Interaction and Multimedia Lab.

NOTE: Blur is an alpha-stage research tool, and you may experience occasional instability while using it. For all questions, bug reports and other remarks, send an email to

  • Blur-0.2.2-x86.msi

SCOTZ: An Improved Window Switching Tool

SCOTZ (for Spatially COnsistent Thumbnail Zones) is a window switching tool developed at the Human-Computer Interaction and Multimedia Lab at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, with partial funding from the Marsden Fund.

The design of SCOTZ is based on research about how people switch between windows. SCOTZ adapts to your window switching behaviour by allocating more space to your favourite applications, making them easier to find and switch to, while keeping items in relatively stable locations.

SCOTZ is currently at beta status and is used as a research tool. For all questions, bug reports and other remarks, use

  • SCOTZ-1.0.5-with-logging.msi - Windows installer, 444 KB
    Compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.
  • Five papers accepted to CHI 2014, three with Honourable Mention awards.
  • Stephen Fitchett gains his Ph.D., with acclamation from the examiners.
  • Two papers accepted to UIST 2013.
  • CHI 2013 best paper, honourable mention, and RepliCHI awards.
  • CHI and MobileHCI 2012 best paper and honourable mention awards.

For advice

Andy Cockburn

Jack Erskine 313
Internal Phone: 92119

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