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Antti Oulasvirta receives ERC funding for research on user interface optimisation

Oulasvirta's research combines computational sciences with psychology.
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The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded an ERC Starting Grant of approximately € 1.5 million for five years to Professor Antti Oulasvirta.

The aim of the research is to develop a new computational approach to user interface design. The key research challenge of the project is the presentation of human diversity as mathematical models which would help to design better user interface blueprints.

- The research brings together the best elements of computers and human beings. Our goal is to improve user interfaces through mathematical optimisation algorithms. We want to help users deal with typical tasks faster and with fewer mistakes. The models predict, for instance, how long it takes to search for various commands from a menu system, Professor Antti Oulasvirta says.

Theories developed in the fields of psychology and biomechanics on human observation, learning, thinking, and motoric performance are applied in the models. If successful, the project will provide information for the design of user interfaces for the wider public regardless of prior experience. The results can be applied, for instance, to the optimisation of keyboards, menu systems, gesture user interfaces, and data networks.

The work began in 2011 in Germany in a research team headed by Antti Oulasvirta at the Max Planck Institute. Oulasvirta is setting up a new research team at Aalto University. His team will include researchers specialised in areas such as optimisation, interaction design, modelling, and data networks.


The European Research Council, ERC, is an EU organisation which funds investigator-driven high-quality basic research conducted by research teams.  The projects to be funded are selected on the basis of scientific quality, and the research must be conducted in an EU Member State, or a so-called associated country. ERC Starting Grant funding is directed at researchers who are at an early stage of their career. It helps them set up independent research teams within seven years of completing their doctoral degree. Read more about
ERC funding schemes.

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