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Impact case study - Video analytic methods & the design of advanced technologies

Organisations are increasingly looking for better ways to monitor, understand or track behaviour in the workplace using video technology. 

To help them, the King’s Work, Interaction and Technology Research Centre has developed innovative video research methods for fine-grained analysis of behaviour.  

For sectors as varied as healthcare and transport, King’s College London’s methods and approach are influencing the way global corporations design, implement and evaluate advanced systems.

Effective methods for fine-grained analysis

Members of the Work, Interaction and Technology Research Centre at King’s have developed methods and techniques to assist the fine-grained analysis of communication and social interaction in everyday settings. 

In response to the challenge, researchers Professor Heath, Luff, Hindmarsh and Dr vom Lehn at King’s drew upon their knowledge of ethnomethodology and conversation analysis to:

  • Explore how participants produce their actions with others in everyday settings.
  • Examine what resources and skills participants rely on to accomplish everyday tasks.

The methods involved techniques for:

  • transcription of speech
  • nonverbal behaviour and technology use
  • detailed analysis of social interactions in work and organisational environments

Research Group - HRM and Employment Relations - Thumb

The design of new technologies 

King’s has played a vital role in projects funded by the EU IST programmes and the UK research councils. 

The team has also worked on a diverse range of project for public and private sector organisations worldwide including:

  • European transport operators – King’s has informed the design of recognition systems for safety and security management
  • Industrial research laboratories – studies of work place activities informed the design and configuration of advanced systems supporting real-time collaboration between remote personnel
  • Museums and galleries – King’s has helped a range of attractions understand how to analyse visitor behaviour

A national and global influence 

The methods have been used in a range of studies of complex organisational settings around the world and a variety of organisations.

London Underground said King’s helped them ‘understand more clearly the impact on a range of operational matters of the use of new technologies', and as a result this has ‘ultimately had an impact on technology spending decisions’.

Two key areas of impact

1. The design and deployment of new technologies

  • Advanced Mediated Communication Technologies – leading industrial research labs such as BT, Xerox and Thales have used King’s methods and research to design and develop advanced “media spaces” and “virtual environments”

  • Augmented Paper Technologies – industrial and service organisations have used King’s research to identify the ways that paper documents remain a critical resource despite the use of digital systems 

2. Application of video-based methods in industrial and service sector organisations

  • King’s are pioneers in the use of video-based methods to inform design, development and assessment of new technologies
  • The methods have benefitted companies like Hitachi, Xerox, Microsoft, Tate Galleries in London and more

King’s research findings have ‘provided the measure against which we judge any and all work practice studies.

Principal Researchers, Microsoft Research

Overall, the studies made a significant research contribution in human interaction and communication, work and organisations, and technology and system design. 

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