About the Digital World Research Centre

The Digital World Research Centre (DWRC) carries out new media innovation projects with social and cultural benefit. To do this we conduct interdisciplinary research into new media platforms, content and experiences. We also strive to commercialize and apply the findings of our research in society. 

Background

DWRC was established in 1998 as a multi-disciplinary research centre in the School of Human Sciences at the University of Surrey. It now resides within the Department of Music and Media in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Early work concentrated on understanding the social impact of new technologies such as mobile phones, e-books and the internet. Current work is focused on understanding new forms of digital media production and consumption, and developing ways of supporting them with novel media genres, formats, devices and services. For example, we have created new kinds of audio-based social media systems for mobile digital storytelling, novel photo display systems for keeping in touch with family and friends, and augmented paper systems for connecting paper to the web.

The centre runs a combination of PhD and post-doctoral research projects. These are funded by a variety of government and industrial sponsors. Government funding has come from UK research councils such as the EPSRC, AHRC and ESRC, and from the EU. Industrial funding has been provided by companies such as Vodafone, Microsoft, Kodak, British Telecom, Orange, Hewlett Packard and Fujitsu. We also have partnerships with smaller creative industry and third sector organizations, and aim to commercialize selected outputs of our research projects.

Disciplines, teaching and consultancy

Members of the Centre come from all three faculties of the university covering Arts and Social Sciences (FASS), Engineering and Physical Sciences (FEPS), and Health and Medical Sciences (FHMS). They therefore teach into their respective disciplinary programmes. See the profiles of individuals for details. From 2017 DWRC will offer user experience (UX) consultancy to outside agencies. See our Courses and consultancy page here, and David Frohlich for more details: frohlich@surrey.ac.uk 

Interdisciplinary approach

We specialise in two types of Design Research to systematically explore the design and use of new media technology and content. We also use practice-based Art Research, unconstrained by user needs or design briefs. This leads to three methodological strands of research as follows:

  • Research for design: Social science studies of new media practice
  • Research through design: Design explorations of new media technologies
  • Research through art: Artistic explorations of media content

By combining the results of these different studies within the same thematic area we are able to understand the dynamics of new media experiences in greater depth. We are also able to innovate at both platform and content levels to improve, extend or transform them. Our outputs are research prototypes, scientific papers, media exhibits, patents and products. We can only do this by working in interdisciplinary teams on particular projects.

Current research themes

We are currently developing three overlapping programmes of research on:

- Assistive media for health and wellbeing

- Narrative media for creativity and collaboration

- Communicative media for development  

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