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Human Experience and Design

Microsoft Research

Human Experience & Design

We care about human experiences with computing.

As a part of Microsoft, we aim to build new technologies, to map out new design spaces, and to provide different ways of looking at human behaviour from low level interaction through to the social and cultural
ramifications of technology.

To do this, we draw on diverse perspectives across the sciences, engineering, arts and humanities. Because of our skill-set, we are unique in being able to create and explore new experiences end-to-end, starting from technology insight, user understanding or design.


  • Design
  • Engineering
  HXD is part of the Human-Computer Interaction Group.
  • HXD Studio Render
  • HXD Studio fish eye
  • HXD Studio
  • HXD Studio
  • David at whiteboard

HXD Studio

The HXD team has recently moved from individual offices to an open design studio, with a diversity of spaces for individual and team work. An emphasis here has been on flexibility and the goal of creating a space that is used by everyone, that can be messy. With this in mind we put an emphasis on furniture that is mobile, buying much of it at low cost to discourage us from feeling like we couldn't discard it if it wasn't what we needed.

We use wheeled, bespoke bar-height tables for large group meetings, as well as for breaking out into individual teams. 4 large monitors on wheels give us flexibility for different kinds of presentations, and can be moved anywhere in the studio thanks to a broad distribution of power in the floor. Most of the studio wall is covered with pin board, onto which a lot of materials can be hung, as well as whiteboard.

We have a project-focussed area, with a smaller meeting table, and again this space can be used very flexibly and on a semi-permanent basis. A set of moveable picnic benches with floor power access offer both space to eat together, as well as hot desk space for individuals and smaller groups.

We are a multi-disciplinary team, with a mix of working styles. While the acoustics in the space work really well, the carpeting particularly helping to dampen the movement of noise between the open spaces and desks, we offered offices for those people in the team whose working style puts more emphasis on reading, writing and confidentiality. Open plan desks all have shelves behind and around them, so although open plan they still offer a modicum of privacy, and help avoid the feeling of people watching over your shoulder. Finally, our reading corner offers a quiet spot for consuming the written word.

We are happy to have navigated the complications of open plan working, and the space is already working well to encourage collaboration and make the team more aware of one another's work, as well as giving our team a strong identity within the lab.


About Microsoft Research Cambridge

Microsoft Research Cambridge was set up in July 1997 with three researchers. Today over 100 researchers, mostly from Europe, are engaged in computer science, social science and design research at the lab. The city of Cambridge, England, was the clear choice for the location of the facility because of its world-renowned reputation and its rich history as a center of learning.