Interrogating the role of emerging technologies in cities through speculative prototypes

The Urban Interfaces Lab investigates the application of emerging technologies in cities. It draws on knowledge, methodologies and theories from the field of interaction design, interrogating speculative futures through design. The work in the lab intersects with other academic and professional fields, by demonstrating the application of urban interfaces and their impact in domains such as smart cities, experience design, urban health, digital placemaking and community engagement. Research in the lab is underpinned by human-centred design, but also challenges the notion of human-centredness by exploring new approaches that consider ecological systems in the design of urban interfaces.


  • Dylan Cheng (PhD student)
  • Louis Chew (PhD student)
  • Dr Joel Fredericks
  • Hamish Henderson (Adjunct Senior Lecturer)
  • Dr Luke Hespanhol
  • Dr Marius Hoggenmueller (Lab co-coordinator)
  • Zhuosi Lai (PhD student)
  • Associate Professor Lian Loke
  • Kristina Mah (PhD student)
  • Dr Callum Parker (Lab coordinator)
  • Associate Professor Dagmar Reinhardt
  • Tram Tran (PhD student)
  • Professor Martin Tomitsch (Honorary lab member)
  • Yiyuan Wang (PhD student)
  • Oliver Weidlich
  • Xinyan Yu (PhD student)
  • Yi Zhao (PhD student)
  • Russian Wu (PhD student)


  • Shared-Space Interactions Between People and Autonomous Vehicles, Tomitsch, M., Worrall, S., Parker, C., Kay, J., Nebot, E., Marvin, S., Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP), 2022-2025. 
  • Trust and Safety in Autonomous Mobility Systems: A Human-centred Approach, Tomitsch, M., Hespanhol, L., Worrall, S., Nebot, E., Kent, J., Wiethoff, A., Ellison, A., Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP), 2020-2023. 
  • Enabling Participatory Local Government in Smart Cities, Alizadeh, T., Dowling, R., Tomitsch, T., Sarkar, S., Hespanhol, L., Innovation and Science/Smart Cities and Suburbs Programme, 2019.
  • Human-machine interaction for driverless cars, Dowling, R., Sadowski, J., Ellison, A., Tomitsch, M., Worrall, S., Nebot, E., The University of Sydney CRIS Collaborative Project Fund, 2018-2019.
  • Digital Bridges: Extending Urban Infrastructure with Interactive Technologies for Community Engagement and Digital Placemaking, Hespanhol, L., Tomitsch, M., Backen, R., Loke, L., Chew, L., The University of Sydney Commercial Development & Industry Partnerships (CDIP)/Industry & Community Engagement Seed Grant & Willoughby City Council, 2018-2019.

This project aims to enhance the perceived sociability, perceived safety, and user experience of autonomous vehicles in their interactions with pedestrians through affective communication.
An augmented reality concept to enhance the understandability of robot operation.
This project investigates which simulation platforms and prototyping representations to use for evaluating interactions between autonomous vehicles and pedestrians.
We developed a tangible multi-display toolkit to support collaborative design explorations of AV-pedestrian interfaces.
Building on the notion of experience prototyping, we investigated how early concept explorations can be carried out in remote design exploration sessions.
Woodie is a free-moving, chalk-drawing urban robot using the public space as a large canvas. Illuminated with UV lights, Woodie’s playground turns into a stunning visualisation.
The Citizen Voices in Cities (CiViC) dashboard uses big data mining algorithms to help local government authorities understand current trending issues in their local communities and to assess the long-term impact of urban projects.
We simulated a wearable AR pedestrian navigation application in virtual reality and explored the impact of different exocentric map displays on navigation performance and user experience.
We developed the “Light Shifting Display” – a novel type of low-resolution lighting display that presents real-time ambient information.
TetraBIN explores how digital technologies can be used to motivate positive change in urban environments.
Public real-time visualisation of domestic electricity usage using interactive mechanical flip-dot displays.
Solstice LAMP activated the forecourt and the facade of the 125m tall AMP building at Sydney’s Circular Quay through an immersive multi-sensory installation.
The Neighbourhood Scoreboard project investigates the effect of public exposure of domestic energy usage on house facades.