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Contact Person

Judy Kay
Judy Kay -

Judy aims to create personalised computing that is embedded throughout the environment to support people in the broad range of activities that are important to their lives.

Project Description

Pervasive computing is changing file access from a solitary task that a user performs at a single, fixed computer terminal, to one where the user has a whole ecosystem of personal devices, which range from the mobile and portable to the embedded and fixed, and which are used in a range of contexts. We particularly consider the issue for interactive tabletops, and more generally for Single Display Groupware (SDG); these have the potential to be a promising means for collaborative interaction, creating both opportunities and constraints for the required file access mechanisms.

There is recognition of the importance of associative storage models for these new pervasive computing devices, which need to support collaborative work making use of multiple personal file systems. Of particular importance is a mechanism that can enable people to walk up to and use interactive surfaces to access and work with their own collections of files in a collaborative setting.

Focus (formerly OnTop) is an associative file and personal information access interface for tabletops. With a single interface action, similar information is pulled from each user’s file collection, regardless of its hierarchical location or the tools used to manage it (for example, email and other personal information is merged with the file system). This allows content-based file access without requiring the user to enter any text for a search. These dynamic associations are based on file metadata and textual content, and an interface is provided to control and influence the similarity calculation (for example, users can promote or demote certain metadata attributes used in the similarity calculation process). A companion application for smartphones, called Focus Inspector, can be used while working at the tabletop to control these settings on a private display. With the Focus Inspector application, a user can also browse their files from their computers (which could be located anywhere), open them for viewing on their phone, and send desired ones to the tabletop for sharing with others.


Media Coverage

  • Students develop rival to Microsoft’s Surface

    A team at Sydney University wrote the Focus application, … Sydney University PhD student Anthony Collins developed the application over the past couple of years for his thesis, in conjunction with PhD student Trent Apted and computer human-adapted interaction head Professor Judy Kay. … Mr Collins said the focus

Related Publications


Collins, Anthony

New dimensions of file access at tabletops: associative and hierarchical; private and shared; individual and collaborative PhD Thesis

School of Information Technologies, University of Sydney, 2011.

Links | BibTeX

Collins, Anthony; Ackad, Christopher James; Apted, Trent; Sztajer, Paul; Ward, Peter; Weng, Hanley; Kay, Judy

Core functionality and new applications for tabletops and interactive surfaces Inproceedings

UbiComp '11, 13th international conference on Ubiquitous computing, pp. 607–608, ACM Press, Beijing, China, 2011, ISBN: 978-1-4503-0630-0.

Links | BibTeX

Collins, Anthony; Kay, Judy; Stewart, Cat; Fitzgerald, Emma; Ackad, Chris


2011902368, 2011.



Collins, Anthony; Kay, Judy

File System Access for Tabletop Interaction Book Chapter

Müller-Tomfelde, Christian (Ed.): pp. 335-355, Springer, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-84996-112-7.

Links | BibTeX

Collins, Anthony; Coche, Helene; Kuflik, Tsvi; Kay, Judy

Making the tabletop personal: employing user models to aid information retrieval Technical Report

School of Information Technologies, University of Sydney (655), 2010, ISBN: 978-1-74210-192-7.

Links | BibTeX

Collins, Anthony; Kay, Judy

Escaping Hierarchies and Desktops: Associative, Pervasive File Access with User Control Technical Report

School of Information Technologies, University of Sydney (649), 2010, ISBN: 978-1-74210-182-8.

Links | BibTeX


Collins, Anthony; Bezerianos, Anastasia; McEwan, Gregor; Rittenbruch, Markus; Wasinger, Rainer; Kay, Judy

Understanding File Access Mechanisms for Embedded Ubicomp Collaboration Interfaces Inproceedings

UbiComp '09: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing, pp. 135–144, ACM Press, Orlando, Florida, USA, 2009, ISBN: 978-1-60558-431-7.

Links | BibTeX

Sprengart, Benjamin; Collins, Anthony; Kay, Judy

Curator: A Design Environment for Curating Tabletop Museum Experiences Inproceedings

ITS '09 Demonstrations, the ACM Conference on Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces, Banff, Alberta, Canada, 2009.

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Collins, Anthony; Kay, Judy

Collaborative Personal Information Management with Shared, Interactive Tabletops Inproceedings

Proceedings of Personal Information Management 2008 (a CHI 2008 Workshop), 2008.

Links | BibTeX

Collins, Anthony

Tabletop File System and Personal Information Management in Pervasive Computing Inproceedings

Advances in Pervasive Computing: Adjunct Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Pervasive Computing, pp. 160–166, Österreichische Computer Gesellschaft, 2008, ISBN: 978-3-85403-236-6.

Links | BibTeX

Collins, Anthony

Enabling Collaborative Tabletop File System Interaction Through Similarity-based Browsing Miscellaneous

2008, (Grand finalist paper submission for the ACM Student Research Competition 2008).

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Collins, Anthony

Exploring Tabletop File System Interaction Inproceedings

CHI '07: CHI '07 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 2171–2176, ACM Press, San Jose, CA, USA, 2007, ISBN: 978-1-59593-642-4.

Links | BibTeX

Collins, Anthony; Apted, Trent; Kay, Judy

Tabletop File System Access: Associative and Hierarchical Approaches Inproceedings

TABLETOP '07: Proceedings of the Second Annual IEEE International Workshop on Horizontal Interactive Human-Computer Systems, pp. 113–120, IEEE Computer Society, Newport, Rhode Island, USA, 2007, ISBN: 0-7695-3013-3.

Links | BibTeX

Collins, Anthony; Kay, Judy

Systems and methods for file transfer to a pervasive computing system Patent

2007231829, 2007.

Links | BibTeX


Collins, Anthony; Kay, Judy

A system, method and software application for the control of file transfer to a pervasive computing system Patent

US2009/0125508 A1, 0000.

Links | BibTeX