Informatics is about structure, behaviour, and interactions. It’s about natural and engineered information processors. Design is about the generation, development and testing of concepts. It’s about the creation of physical objects, capabilities or services. Design Informatics focuses on designing with data. We can harness massive connectivity, analytic power and industrial-strength simulation to design tangible products and intangible services to transform the ways we work, live at home, care for each other, and play. The Centre for Design Informatics is for the agents of change who want to make a difference through computational thinking and design, to make things better, bit by bit. Our vision is that Scotland can take a lead in designing with data, combining informatics and design, to support the augmented society; just as virtual reality is blending into augmented reality, the digital economy and the information society will evolve into the augmented society. Already, social media tools are increasing the social and economic value that can be generated by extremely varied collections of people. As the products of informatics further augment our society, natural human intelligence will intertwine with vast data-processing power. These emerging products are revolutionising the means by which social and economic value can be generated. Old divisions and distinctions are shifting and dissolving: designers and users, producers and consumers are working together in new ways to create new value. Design is embracing adaptive devices and services that both learn and teach. At the same time, the fields of design and informatics are being enriched through research by design. The merger between the University of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh College of Art creates a unique opportunity for Scotland and the UK to realise Design Informatics. The Schools of Informatics and Design have formed the Centre to inspire, equip and nurture a new generation of design-informatics researchers, practitioners and entrepreneurs. The Centre weaves together four threads from each school, with machine learning an overarching theme. For design: product, media, fashion and architecture. For informatics: vision and robotics, interaction, sensor networks, and synthetic biology. The academic year 2011/12 sees the Centre growing its activity in research, entrepreneurship, teaching and outreach.


The Centre has hosted Resident Entrepreneurs who we helped to take their own informatics products to market, designing with data, to build innovative prototypes and transform them into viable products. The Centre currently has half a dozen residencies, housed in Evolution House, with access to entrepreneurial education, and support for spinning out. The Centre’s community of interest is being developed to help forge the links between academics and local and global companies and organisations, both large and small. These links will underpin the placements being established for future students. Visit the Residencies page to find out more about the companies taking part. Unfortunately we are currently not recruiting new entrepreneurs but hope to in the future.


Courses are being designed for students who want to build their skills in design informatics. There is a degree programme for informatics-based students, and another for design-based students. Both involve the deepening of technical skills, as well as broadening out to enable interactions across discipline boundaries. The courses have a focus on practicals and products, and work is in hand to scope out summer placements on challenging projects. See the Postgraduate page for more details.


Students, staff and entrepreneurs are exploring the possibilities which are generated by crossing ideas from design and informatics. For instance, what can computer vision do for animation? Can synthetic biology and fashion find common ground? Every student or staff research project has to address a practical challenge. Can we improve the ways we work, especially creatively - or the ways we care, for vulnerable members of the community - or the ways we play, on the sports-field, or on holiday? See the Research pages for futher details on projects.


The centre works in association with New Media Scotland on many projects from Late Labs as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, Expanded Cinema event and on the Alt-W programme.