Dr Dominic Furniss

Researcher Co-Investigator on CHI+MED & ECLIPSE

Location:UCL Interaction Centre, 2nd Floor, 66-72 Gower Street, University College London, Gower Street, London. WC1E 6BT

Office: Room 2.06, 66-72 Gower Street

Telephone: +44 (0)20 3108 7062 (ext 57062)
Email: d.furniss@ucl.ac.uk



Twitter: @DomFurniss & @FaintSignals




  • ErrorDiary is a Twitter feed of amusing everyday errors. If you're lecturing on Human Error you can use this as a resource, or you can follow it just for fun! Please join and contribute. Originally started by @FaintSignals. A small excerpt can be found here.


I am a researcher co-investigator on CHI+MED (EPSRC EP/G059063/1) and ECLIPSE (NIHR 12/209/27). My role is to investigate how medical devices are used in practice through interviews and observations. I specialise in evaluation and systematic qualitative research, methods and theory more broadly. My current contributions revolve around four main themes:

1) Operationalising Distributed Cognition: DiCoT (Distributed Cognition for Teamwork) is a method that combines the structure of Contextual Inquiry and theory of Distributed Cognition. It was conceived as part of my MSc thesis and has been applied and developed inside and outside of UCLIC.

2) Operationalising Resilience Engineering: RMF (Resilience Markers Framework) is a framework that was conceived as part of my work in Norway. It has been used inside and outside UCLIC. 

3) Understanding ‘situated methods’: My PhD thesis investigated practitioner’s adoption and adaptation of methods in HCI. My PhD thesis has been downloaded 830 times from UCL Discovery, cited in two major European projects (MAUSE and TwinTide) and in 17 international papers.

4) Making Fieldwork for Healthcare and Medical Device evaluation more accessible: I led an international workshop where researchers shared their experiences and lessons learnt. This activity contributed to the development of two books to provide guidance to the broader community. I was lead editor on both books.

My research interests include understanding how people interact with tools, methods, artefacts and other people in context. This page lists the major research projects I have been involved in. This includes:


Resilience for Nuclear Power Plants

HCI Methods in Practice

Ambulance Service Control Room


CHI+MED (Present)

CHI+MED: Multidisciplinary Computer-Human Interaction research for the design and safe use of interactive medical devices. The focus of this research programme is on medical devices that have a large interactive component e.g. infusion pumps. Broadly, there are four complementary strands to the project, and my focus is on Strands 3 and 4: 
Strand 1: Formal analysis of medical devices – this involves reverse engineering current devices, creating simulations, and applying formal analytic techniques to reveal error states e.g. entering 1.0.5 could be computed as 1.0, 0.5 or 1.5. 
Strand 2: Individual interaction – this involves psychological experiments into slips, lapses, interruptions, adding points of reflection in the task, and investigating compensation strategies for poor designs e.g. rebooting a device to start-over rather than correcting a mistake within the same task. 
Strand 3: Situated interaction – this involves observing the use of devices in context and listening to what patients, carers and medical professionals have to say about the devices, in a variety of medical settings and in the home. 
Strand 4: Stakeholder engagement – this involves engaging with patients, medical professionals, Human Factors consultants, manufacturers and regulators to not only be informed by them and make them aware of our work; but to also understand the medical device development landscape i.e. How do these people and organisations interact? What different interests, pressures, and incentives shape medical device development, procurement and deployment? 

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Resilience for Nuclear Power Plants (2009)

Working for IFE (Institute for Energy Technology) in Norway I led a work package to invetsigate the potential use of the concept 'resilience' for nuclear power. Resilience promises much: often contrasted with safety it is said to provide an adaptive capacity when normal safety barriers are challenged and fail. Our analysis concluded that the term is useful if it is seen as a complementary approach. For example to become more aware of 'normal' errors rather than accepting them, to promote mechanisms for the propagation of expertise, and to recognise and spread evolved best practices. We noted specific challenges that should be addressed for develop this context in practice.

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HCI Methods in Practice (2008)

My PhD research focused on understanding the opportunities and barriers for Human Factors and usability evaluation methods in practice. I was supervised by Prof. Ann Blandford and Dr Paul Curzon who are leading the project.

Title: Beyond Problem Identification: Valuing methods in a ‘system of usability practice’

I investigated why HCI and Human Factors practiitoners use some methods and not others. I carried out on extensive Grounded Theory study over three years. Results were boradly an articulation of 'It depends...', which was a phrase commonly used by practitoners to show how the nuances of real world projects impacted on research methods. Analysis was built up through successive rounds of development. This included 3 models: 1) where previous research has highlighted the downstream utility of UEMs we expand the metaphor to consider the landscape through which the stream flows, where the landscape represents the project’s context; 2) where information propagation and transformation in a project is influenced by social, information flow, artefact, physical and evolutionary factors; and 3) where the functional couplings between parts of the system of usability practice can be monitored and managed to positively resonate with each other, thereby improving the performance of the system overall.

My strapline would be: Usability Evaluation Method adoption and adaptation cannot be fully understood devoid of context.

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Ambulance Service Control Room (2005)

My MSc these developed DiCoT. I was challenged to apply Distributed Cognition to the London Ambulance Service Control Room. Previous research by Hutchins showed that he took an ethnographic approach and there was little in the way of guidance in how to apply this framework. I borrowed concepts from Contextual Design and overlayed Distrubuted Cognition theory, whilst needing to make some adaptations along the way. This led to a more structured approach to utilising this research perspective than had previosuly been availble in the literature.

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Research Publications

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This page lists the major grants and awards I have received.


Grant - Researcher Co-Investigator - CHI+MED 

2010-2015: I helped write the CHI+MED programme grant and am employed as a researcher co-invetsigator on that project. Funded by EPSRC grant: EP/G059063/1.

Grant - Researcher - Platform Grant

2009-2010: I was funded as a researcher on the Healthy Interactive Systems in Healthcare (EPRSC Platform Grant): EP/G003971/1

Grant - PhD student - Human Error Modelling Project 

2005-2008: My PhD was funded as part of the HUM (HUman error Modelling) Project. EPSRC grants: GR/S67494/01 and GR/S67500/01.


Award - Provost Teaching Award

2011. I helped develop an innovative teaching exercise for our MSc students which combines Digital Stories with a real public engagement exercise. More info.

Award - Microwave Racing - CHI video 'Best Thought Piece'

2011. My Microwave Racing film won 'best thought piece' at CHI's 2011 video showcase. More info.

Award - Microwave Racing - HFES YouTube Competition

2011. My Microwave Racing film tied third place in the HFES YouTube video competition. More info.

SET for Britain at the House of Commons

2011. I was selected to present my research at the House of Commons as part of the SET for Britain early career researchers competition. More info.

Award - John Long Best MSc Thesis Award

2005. My MSc these developed DiCoT (Distributed Cognition for Healthcare). I was awarded the best thesis prize for UCLIC for 2004/5.

Feb 2013 - 5min Film: Engineering for HCI: Upfront effort, downstream pay-back - Accepted to CHI video showcase 2013

Mar 2011 - 20sec Short: Confessions from a Grounded Theory PhD - CHI madness

Mar 2011 - 10min Film: Recording of my UCL BrightClub Comedy Set on 15.03.11

Dec 2010 - 2min Short: Microwave Racing - Accepted to CHI video showcase 2011

Dec 2010 - 3min Short: Human Error, Resilient Strategies and Device Design

Nov 2010 - 2min Short: Problems with a syringe pump II (the sequel)

Oct 2010 - 7sec Short: Usability-Spotting

Aug 2010 - 15min Film: Man-Machine Nightmares: Chaos Buttons, Human Error and Healthcare

Affiliated Films

Nov 2010 - 2min Short: Why Buttons Go Bad - Accepted to CHI video showcase 2011

YouTube Channel

My YouTube channel page can be found under 5m0keyj0e

Please click here for my blog: http://domfurniss.wordpress.com

Page last modified on 24 apr 13 14:59 by Dominic J Furniss