Applied Informatics
From AI to user experience, we’re transforming how we share information.
Head of Subject

Dr Debbie Meharg
Head of Applied Informatics

Applied Informatics


Applied Informatics is one of the largest subject groups in the School of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment with over 35 full time staff and a growing PhD community. We host a range of undergraduate degree and MSc programmes that align with our staff's broad range of research interests. These include Assistive and Inclusive Technologies, Communities and Creative practices, Digital Media, Experience Design, Education and Widening Participation, Human-Computer Interaction, Human-Robot Interaction, Responsible AI, Participation, Social Informatics, Sound Design, User Experience. We have an active research community that publishes in international and world leading journals or conferences.

Our Key Research Themes

The research within the group is broad and world leading. In the last UK assessment of research (REF2021) the Centre for Social Informatics (CSI) continued to demonstrate the international excellence of its research. For Unit of Assessment 34, 76% of the Centre’s submission overall was judged as internationally excellent (3*) or world-leading (4*). The components of Impact and Research Environment attracted high scores: Impact 100% at 3* and 4*; Environment 90% at 3* and 4*.

The CSI’s research focus is on digital engagement; information and digital literacies, behaviours and practices; information and knowledge management; as well as organisation generally. The Centre develops knowledge in a range of domains including libraries and archives, community representation, skills development, and the metaverse. The Centre also considers methods to support research in these diverse areas.

The Interaction Design Research Group focuses on interactive digital products, environments, systems and services through a design-led approach that addresses the space connecting people, technology and context. The group has expertise in designing AI-based human-machine interfaces; mapping spaces and places; the creation and consumption of data; speculative design; the design of soundscapes and interaction with, and for, children along with under-represented communities.

Our research is funded by a variety of bodies including charities e.g. the Carnegie Trust for Scotland; companies; government agencies, e.g. Skills Development Scotland; professional bodies, e.g. the Archives and Records Association (ARA) and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP); and the UK research councils, e.g. Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

We have an excellent research environment. We represent Edinburgh Napier in the Science, Technology and Innovation Studies and Information and Communication Studies pathway at the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS).

Our Research Projects

  • British Sign Language in Embodied Music Interaction (AHRC)
  • Creative Informatics (AHRC)
  • CAROUSEL+ Telepresent Dance Reducing Social Distancing (Horizon 2020)
  • Dynamic Range: Immersive Screenwriting for Sound (AHRC)
  • Let’s Play Wester Hailes (UKRIRAE); Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Crafting Futures Project; British Council's Road to COP26 Campaign
  • Gaze tracking through in ear sensing (Carnegie Trust)
  • Platform to platform: an investigation into audience engagement with digitised archives and its transformative impact across different online formats (AHRC)
  • The Sound Beneath our Feet (AHRC)
  • SpeculativeEDU (Erasmus+)
  • The Seven Kingdoms of Wester Hailes Project (UKRI)
  • Subjective orientation in VR audio (AHRC)
  • Information Literacy Impact & Information Literacy and Society (CILIP)
  • Information practices of Scottish Community Councillors (ESRC, CILIP and others)
  • Research Impact and Value in Library and Information Science (RIVAL) Network (RSE)
  • Developing Research Excellence and Methods (DREaM) (AHRC)
  • Fixing the Future: The Right to Repair and Equal-IoT (EPSRC)

Our Degree Programmes



Lab Facilities

Auralisation Suite - a dedicated 28.4 channel audio facility which is available for conducting listening experiments, incorporating linear media (Audio books, Film, Podcasting, Radio, Theatre, TV), interactive media (Augmented Reality, Extended Reality, Sonification, Video games, Virtual Reality) and emerging technologies (Binaural reproduction, Extended audiograms, Internet of Things, Novel audio codecs, Robotics).  The space is capable of virtually recreating almost any auditory environment for contextual design under controlled, repeatable conditions.

The Sensorium - a bespoke human-robotic/machine interaction lab enabling the evaluation of prototypes and contains specialist equipment such as robots (Nao, Pepper), eye-tracking and biometric sensors.

E11 Studio - provides a digital prototyping space for the creation of novel data-driven products, services and experiences which is currently used as part of the Creative Informatics project. The motto of the studio is explore, experience, experiment and this underpins our approach, enabling people with different levels of knowledge about a topic to get together, discuss and consider how a particular new technology might impact on their own practice.