In general I study different aspects of human-computer interaction and how users cognitively & emotionally process media. Specific topics include:

Task-Switching & Media Fragmentation

Convergence technologies such as laptops and smart phones centralize a wide variety of mediated applications, ranging from email to streaming video to games to social networks. Entertainment, work, news, and social relationships are all accessible through the shared portal of a single device, with users rapidly switching (on the scale of seconds) between these contents. In turn, contents once experienced holistically, in isolation, and for extended durations are now engaged as jumbled sequences of very short, unrelated fragments. I study the process by which users atomize and sequence contents, and how the interdependence of fragments of content (with respect to priming, switch costs, and other aspects of cognitive processing) may influence task-related outcomes such as productivity, enjoyment, or perceived intimacy.

Virtual Reality & Immersive Media

Another current research area relates to the mainstreaming of virtual reality. As immersive media become living room technologies, there has been a rush by various firms to design for the experience of spatial presence. One leg of my research focuses on how to streamline this process, studying the relative contribution of different immersive technologies in eliciting presence. Additionally, I am also researching the ecological fit of virtual reality as an inherently immersive media format coming to age in the era of media multitasking. My work is looking at how to best integrate this technology, sorting which social domains and scenarios may be aided by virtual or augmented reality and which may merely lead to information overload.

Motivational Design

I also study how the context and framing of actions can promote behavior change. For instance, new media and sensor technologies can quantify and track all sorts of daily behaviors (e.g., exercise, food intake, driving habits, energy use), but people don't always know what to do with this feedback. I investigate how the presentation of this data can be improved so as to facilitate engagement, reflection, and action. One approach is to leverage the motivational elements inherent to games and play and apply them to target behaviors - that is, add a new, fun layer of meaning to actions. Another is to frame choices in a manner that caters to our brain's cognitive biases and to individual differences in preferred decision-making strategies (maximization through hard thinking, satisficing by relying on heuristics, etc.). While many industry practitioners focus on (a) classic definitions of extrinsic and intrinsic incentives for behavior and (b) external rewards rather than deliberation, I'm interested in designs that can instead help people to internalize the value of target behaviors and to eventually self-regulate their choices and actions.

Affective Computing

In addition to using physiological measures as indices of cognitive processing, I am interested in how that data can be inputted back into media devices so as to calibrate content and settings in light of user state. Communication and psychology have rich literatures investigating how we use media to manage moods and regulate emotions. Traditionally, this entails users selecting and customizing media so as to fit their needs; however, new media that passively sense and respond to user states may help to offload some of that regulatory effort. Designs that dynamically adapt based on feedback can cater to user needs, customizing experiences in a manner that may improve usability, productivity or the ability to attain desired cognitive or emotional states. I am particularly interested in the capacity of sensor technology for increasing player engagement during gaming experiences.