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Daniela Petrelli

Professor Daniela Petrelli PhD

Professor of Interaction Design


My current research focuses on novel forms of interaction design that combine digital technology with product design, also known as Tangible and Embedded Interaction. I have been investigating these hybrid digital-physical scenarios within two different domains: personal memories and cultural heritage.

Past research topics that still interest me include multimedia and multilingual information access, intelligent user interfaces, personalisation, data visualization and visual analytics.

I have published over 90 peer-reviewed papers, gave over 30 talks, and received 11 awards and recognitions from both academia and industry.

Over the years, I have been awarded grants in excess of £2M.

  • About

    New forms of interaction can be designed by combining ubiquitous computing with traditional materials: digital technology creates smart spaces and objects that react to and interact with people, while sensing of the physical world supports the feelings of immersion and engagement. What happens when digital is combined with material and the new possibilities this hybrid culture offers to interaction design is the focus of my research. My research spans from lab experiments aiming to address fundamental questions (“how do people perceive objects that have physical properties, i.e. different sizes, shapes or materials, as well as different behaviours, i.e. emit light or sound or vibrate?”) to in-the-wild experiments designed to observe what happens when the product of research is used in real life.

    I studied how our digital present could be preserved outside computers in a way that is engaging and fun, embedded in our daily life and immediately accessible.

    I also coordinate and lead the EU project meSch - material encounters with digital cultural heritage (2013-2017) that looks at how hybrid digital-material objects and spaces change the experience of visiting museums and cultural heritage sites.

    Before joining Sheffield Hallam University in 2010, I spent ten years at the University of Sheffield researching user aspects of multilingual and multimedia information access, multimedia archiving, semantic search and data visualisation. Earlier research interests include language-based interaction, intelligent user interfaces and personalisation.

    I have published over 90 peer-reviewed papers, gave over 30 talks, and received 11 awards and recognitions from both academia and industry.

    Over the years, I have been personally awarded grants in excess of £2M.

    I have a PhD in Interaction Design, a Laurea in Information Science (Italian degree equivalent to MComp), and a Diploma in Fine Arts.

    Tangible and Embedded Interaction; Digital Technology for Cultural Heritage; Personal Memories in the Digital Age; Multilingual Information Access; Data Visualisation and Interaction

  • Teaching

    Science, Technology and Arts

    meSch - material encounters with digital cultural heritage

    Digital Christmas - exploring the potential of festive technology for capturing and revisiting family memories.

    Make, do and mend - How We Repair The Things We Wear

  • Research

    • Art and Design Research Centre
    • Materials and Engineering Research Institute, Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute

    meSch – material encounters with digital cultural heritage
    The aesthetics of hybrid objects

  • Publications

    A list of publications is available from the institutional repository, SHURA

    Petrelli, D., Hansen, P., Beaulieu, M., Sanderson, M., Demetriou, G., Herring P. (2004) Observing Users – Designing Clarity: A Case study on the user-centred design of a cross-language retrieval system. JASIST – Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (JASIST) 55(10), 923-934.

    Ciravegna, F., Dingli, A., Wilks, Y., Petrelli, D. (2003) Using adaptive information extraction for effective human-centred document annotation. In J. Franke, G. Nakhaeizadeh, I. Renz (eds.) “Text Mining, Theoretical Aspects and Applications”, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 2003, 153-161, Springer Verlag. ISBN-10: 3790800414

    Petrelli, D., Beaulieu, M., Sanderson, M., Hansen, P. (2002) User Requirement Elicitation for Cross- language Information Retrieval. In the proceedings of the Information Seeking in Context (ISIC) conference; re-published in The New Review of Information Behaviour Research – Studies of Information seeking in context, vol.3.

    Petrelli, D., Not, E., Zancanaro, M., Strapparava, C., Stock, O. (2001) Modelling and Adapting to Context.The International Journal of Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 5, 20-24.

    Not, E., Petrelli, D., Sarini, M., Stock, O., Strapparava, C., Zancanaro, M. (1998) Hypernavogation in the Physical Space: Adapting Presentations to the User and to the Situational Context. The New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, vol. 4, 33-45.

  • Other activities

    Expert reviewer for the EU Research Program Horizon 2020 (2014-present)
    External Examiner for Digital Media Design Programme (2008-2012)
    External Examiner for PhD at Technical University of Vienna (Austria), University of Lancaster (UK), University of Surrey (UK), Dublin City University (Ireland)
    Member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Human Computer Studies IJHCS (2010-2014)

  • Postgraduate supervision

    Tangible interaction to engage visitors in house museums

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