Fridge magnets and remembering

Our Materialising Memories alumnus Dr. Annemarie Zijlema was recently interviewed by the UK newspaper The Guardian about (some of) her PhD research. You can find out more in the second half of this lovely article on Fridge magnets, which can be impactful tangible memory cues:

For anyone keen to learn more about Annemarie’s research, take a look at her PhD thesis and publications on our Publications page:

Exploring Self-reflective Experiences through Tangible Interaction with Personal Lifelog Data

Please join us for our next talk by A./Prof. Young-Woo Park. This event is co-organised by ACM SydCHI, the Materialising Memories Research Program, and the UTS Visualisation Institute.

Thursday, 26 May 2022, 12:00 PM-1:00 PM. You can register your interest to attend via the Eventbrite page to receive the meeting link.


People create and consume digital possessions such as photographs, digital music, videos, posts, texts, and documents through smart devices in their daily lives. This behavior has caused an increase in the types and amount of individuals’ accumulated data over time, and storing everything “just in case” has made it difficult for people to organize and retrieve the data. Although cloud services and AI make the revisiting experience easy to navigate for particular themes, digital possessions’ intangible and indiscriminate nature still affects the limited experiences revisiting individuals’ past data. Our research team has investigated ways to provide new designs and interactions using data-driven technologies for meaningful everyday activities, which link to enriching self-reflective experiences. At this point, we utilized everyday objects to show and provide tangible interaction with personal lifelog data to support new experiences in daily life. This seminar will introduce examples of how people perceive and interact with personal lifelog data (e.g., photos, music listening history, schedules, and reading activity) through everyday artifacts in homes.

About A./Prof. Young-Woo Park

I am an Associate Professor of Design at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in South Korea and leading Interactive Product Design Lab. As an interaction design researcher, I was Program Chair of ACM TEI’22 and Papers Program Committee for ACM CHI’19 & ’20, DIS’18 & ’20~’22, along with South Korea’s HCI and Design community. My research highlights the significance of ‘physical richness’ during interaction with technologies by utilizing personal data as a material for designing interactive artifacts enabling tangible exploration of digital archives in everyday lives.

Open call for PhD applicants for Materialising Memories

UTS (University of Technology Sydney) has a yearly application round for PhD scholarships, for both domestic and international applicants. If you are interested in doing a PhD in the context of Materialising Memories than find more information here for an open call titled “Embodied interaction design in the context of materialising memories”:

On that website you can also find links to the application deadlines and process. Do not hesitate to get in touch.

Two (PhD and/or Postdoc) positions on Muscle Memory and Interaction Design

The Exertion Games Lab ( in Melbourne (directed by Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller) and the Materialising Memories research program ( in Sydney (directed by Prof. Elise van den Hoven), are seeking exceptional PhD and Post-Doc candidates to research the design of interactive muscle or motor memory systems.

We are looking for two candidates who value an interdisciplinary design studio environment. You will be highly motivated, willing to learn a variety of skills, extremely creative as well as technical, and also have highly developed analytical and communicative skills. Prior research experience (publications, etc.) is desirable and so are people-centered design skills, hardware prototyping abilities (Arduino, etc.) and/or programming skills. We are looking at potential for creativity, excellence, drive and people who are a pleasure to have on the team.

The focus of the research will be to understand the design of interactive muscle memory (motor memory) systems: The candidates will study how people use muscle memory in everyday life, will prototype interactive muscle memory systems and study their use in order to understand what designers can learn from remembering activities that involve the active human body in regard to designing interactive systems. This project will utilize the Exertion Games Lab’s Qualisys motion capture system and the electronic muscle stimulation system (amongst others). The candidates will engage with prototyping equipment to invent a series of future muscle memory experiences and study the associated user experiences.

See also our CHI2020 workshop:

Entry requirements for PhD candidates:
You will need to have a four-year degree that includes a thesis or a three-year Bachelor and a Master’s degree by research, for exact details see the link below. Typical backgrounds are interaction design, human-computer interaction, game design, computer science, industrial design, electrical engineering, human movement, sports science, performing and media arts but we are curious to hear what you can contribute. All nationalities are encouraged to apply.

All PhD positions are full-time, 3 years, available to all nationalities, onsite, and by thesis, i.e. conclude with a thesis in the field of interaction design/HCI supervised by Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller and Elise van den Hoven. Scholarships are available according to the standard Australian Postgraduate Award rate of approx. AUD 28,000 per year.

Post-Doc openings:
The Post-Docs (Research Fellows) positions are for 3 years and are paid on Academic Level B ($AU 97,203 – $115,429 pa, plus 17% employer superannuation).

First, applicants will apply with an expression of interest to the email below. After the internal interview with the Exertion Games Lab and Materialising Memories program, the candidate will need to apply to the general university admissions office. This two-step process ensures that we are able to endorse your application.


The Exertion Games Lab researches the future of interfaces for playful experiences. Our research is focused on the merging of play, technology and the active human
body, drawing from research streams such as interaction design, human-
computer interaction and computer games research. We publish mostly at CHI, CHI PLAY, DIS, TEI, Ubicomp (IMWUT), and UIST.
The culture in the Exertion Games Lab is one of interdisciplinary work. At the Exertion Games Lab, we do not just philosophize and write about the future, we actively invent it. We emphasize the development of working prototypes in order to fully understand what play is, why we play, and how we will play in the future. We do this because we believe playing is a fundamental part of what makes us humans who we are, and an understanding of this brings us closer to our vision of a better world filled with interactive technologies that support human values.

The Exertion Games Lab also hosts weekly presentation, writing and reading group activities to support the candidate. We are also offering a large space to research and design in an open plan lab environment.

You might find it useful to read about the lab’s vision: Mueller, F., Byrne, R., Andres, J., Patibanda, R. Experiencing the Body as Play. Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. (CHI 2018). ACM. Talk video. Best Paper Award (top 1%).

The Computer-Human Interaction and Creativity (CHIC) group at Monash (which was in the top 20 institutions at CHI’19, with a similar result to be expected at CHI’20 with 21 conditionally accepted papers):

The Materialising Memories research program ( uses design research to study and support people in their everyday remembering practices. We investigate remembering and forgetting, the effects of physical objects, the body and digital media on memories in everyday life and the creation and curation of these objects and media. Our insights are used to design and evaluate innovative objects and interactive products that facilitate remembering and forgetting in everyday life, during and after major life events, for those with healthy memories and for those with memory challenges.
Materialising Memories is a multidisciplinary team distributed between University of Technology Sydney, Australia, Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands and University of Dundee, UK.

This paper introduces the Materialising Memories research program: Hoven, E. van den (2014). A future-proof past: Designing for remembering experiences. Memory Studies, vol. 7, issue 3, July 2014, pp. 373-387.


PhD entry requirements:
PhD information:

Please submit your expression of interest, including CV and portfolio website if available by email to “info at exertiongameslab dot org” and “elise dot vandenhoven at uts dot edu dot au”, with subject line “Application: Muscle Memory”.

Please also check our websites for additional information regarding the openings.

Looking forward to reading your applications!

The Exertion Games Lab & The Materialising Memories research program &

Managing relationships post-breakup

As most people know, breaking up with someone isn’t easy. Apart from having to break the news (a text message won’t do!), perhaps settling for a divorce, and the physical division of shared possessions, there is the longer and harder process of disentangling your shared lives. Part of that life plays out online, with shared friends, shared photo collections, shared accounts, and other things that aren’t so easy to divide. Once separated, you may not want your Netflix account to continue to suggest reruns of Frasier, your ex’s favourite indulgence…

Two years ago, our PhD student Daniel Herron spoke with local radio 2SER about this issue on a show titled ‘How to break up online.’ Recently, in an online interview with Prof Wendy Moncur by the Australian Body+Soul website, she gives some advice for those currently experiencing the effects of having to digitally separate:

  • Try not to keep up with your ex online. A little distance will help the process of getting over the relationship that once was.
  • Prevent them from keeping up with you as well. Tracking apps, shared accounts, etc., may still give the other party a way to keep track of you. So reduce access and change passwords where possible. It may not help either of you to keep tabs on the other and may lead to future arguments. This includes limiting visibility on online profiles, including social media like Facebook and LinkedIn.
  • Prevent reminders of the past to pop up at unwanted times. For example, spend a little time with the Facebook ‘On this day’ feature to disable some reminders of your past relationship.
  • Finally, when posting about the breakup or the immediate period after, consider how it comes across and whether you need to announce some of the more painful parts of the breakup.

Have a look at the full article for more in-depth coverage of Wendy’s advice to those going through the process of ending a relationship and forging a new life without the no-longer-so-significant other.

If you already managed a breakup succesfully but you still have some things left to give away, make sure you check out The Museum of Broken Relationship’s visit to Melbourne in September this year!

Engaging with dementia on Rens Brankaert’s KTP visit

Between October and December last year, Rens Brankaert visited UTS as a Key Technology Partner Visiting Fellow. In his work as an associate professor at Eindhoven University of Technology, Rens focuses on inclusive human-centred design, interaction design and multi-stakeholder innovation. During his visit to Sydney, the focus was on his work to improve the quality of life for those with dementia and the people in their vicinity. The aim is to design user-friendly products for people with dementia that help them live their daily lives and improve wellbeing and/or increase their autonomy.

In a recent interview with UTS’ Annabel Jeffrey and Alex McAlpin, both Rens and Gail Kenning (who invited Rens to UTS) acknowledge that a very people-centred design process in this area brings unique challenges. As Gail said: “A lot of the work we do is not just changing the system to improve quality of life, it’s figuring out how to engage the people in the design process itself. That ensures the systems we devise work for people in all respects.” Establishing a relationship is key to ensure a successful process, which Rens acknowledged in the interview: “It’s easy when someone’s able to communicate on the same level, but to have a balanced research relationship with someone with dementia, that’s challenging.”

Rens’ visit to UTS enabled him and Gail to continue their conversations and develop further research plans and build on earlier visits by Gail to Eindhoven University. The partnership between the universities helps both researchers to play a stronger role in the research on participatory design processes involving those affecting by dementia. While Rens has returned to Eindhoven since the interview was conducted, the research collaboration will continue. Both believe that the developing perspectives across Europe and Australia reinforce each other and stand to benefit an ever-broader group of people.

Read the full interview with Rens and Gail on the UTS website.

Daniel Herron wins a UTS HDR Commendation award

Last week, Daniel Herron was awarded a 2018 UTS HDR Directors Commendation. The Faculty’s Higher Degree Research director decided to award the Commendation to Daniel for his work on how to deal with broken relationships and their digital remains. With this award, Daniel wins an official certificate recognising the achievement and a modest cash prize.

The faculty uses the award to recognise work that illustrates the breadth and depth of its doctoral candidates, and it hopes to encourage candidates to look at how their work makes a contribution to their field and society. Daniel made various efforts to promote and communicate his work in the media, including radio interviews and an article in The Conversation. He also undertook a collaboration with the Museum of Broken Relationships to stage an exhibition at the CHI 2018 conference earlier this year. After that, he went on to Facebook for an internship that lasted several months.

We’re very proud of Daniel being rewarded for his research achievements! Daniel himself says that ‘as a Joint-PhD student, it means a lot that FEIT are as excited about my research as I am! Thank you to FEIT and UTS for supporting my work and recognising my contribution with this award.’

New MM magazine out now

Just in time for the Dutch Design Week, we received the prints for our Materialising Memories magazine. The glossy magazine gives readers an introduction to the Materialising Memories vision and projects. It features contributions from nearly all team members, both those have completed and those who are still going.

We hope the magazine helps to introduce the project to new connections and serve as a way to bring together the range of projects we have taken on since its start over five years ago.

The Materialising Memories magazine is now available.

If you happen to be in Eindhoven this week, get in touch with Elise, Gail, or Doménique for a copy. We’ll have copies on hand during the DDW DRIVE festival outing on Wednesday the 24th. Those in Australia can look forward to a locally printed copy within the next week or two.

A digital copy is also available for download.

Video on experiences with joint degree program

A few weeks ago, Elise and Doménique were interviewed by UTS International on their experiences with what UTS calls a collaborative doctoral degree. Here, we have always referred to the degree as a joint program between two universities, in this case, UTS and Eindhoven University of Technology. Because Doménique was the first candidate to complete the program, we were approached to reflect on our experiences as a supervisor and PhD student.

In the video, we mention some of the benefits and things to consider ahead of enrolling in the program. UTS International hopes the video inspires future students to look into the potential for them and their future (academic) careers. We are not the only ones, there are several more videos that feature experiences with other doctoral degree programs on UTS’ YouTube channel (but not yet in a dedicated playlist so you’ll have to browse a bit to find them).

Video by UTS International on our experiences with the joint degree program

DDW DRIVE event on 24 October

Late next month, Materialising Memories will take part in the ClickNL DRIVE festival held during the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven.  Under the title ‘Design to Support Remembering,’ Elise, Gail, and Doménique will give the audience an overview of the MM project and illustrate why it is relevant today and in the near future.

The 1.5-hour session will outline that MM is a design-research programme that focuses on supporting people when they use their autobiographical memory in everyday life. Elise’s opening segment will explain what that means in practice, and will cover topics such as memory cuing and personal memory media. Gail follows that with an interactive session exploring a relationship between personal memories and mediated memories. Finally, Doménique will talk about the design and evaluation of Phototype, an interactive photo display that was placed in the homes of eleven paticipants last year. Phototype is an interactive demonstrator designed to support serendipitous reminiscing. His talk will also discuss how the findings relate to personal media capture and use in general.

For those keen to attend, the Design Research & Innovation Festival takes places on 24 and 25 October in the Latlab building in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Our session is scheduled in the Auditorium on the 24th at 15:00.