Job offer

Designing Co-Adaptive Instruments to Support Design

Date: October 3rd, 2019
Domain: Human-Computer Interaction
Topic: Co-Adaptive Instruments
Group: ExSitu, INRIA Saclay, Université Paris-Saclay
Location: Bâtiment 650 (Ada Lovelace)
Supervisor: Wendy E. Mackay, Research Director (DR0), Inria

We are interested in taking advantage of instrumental interaction to create more effective human-computer partnerships,
specifically by providing creative professionals with simpler, yet more powerful interactive tools.


We are developing a novel theoretical framework, based on the concepts of substrates and co-adaptive instruments, in which we treat the interaction between people and computers as a first class object. Co-adaptation refers to how users both adapt their behavior to manage novel technologies, through learning, and adapt these technologies for their own purposes, through appropriation (Mackay, 2002, Mackay, 2008). Instrumental interaction (Beaudouin-Lafon, 2000, Beauduoin-Lafon & Mackay, 2000), identifies a set of principles for creating simpler, yet more powerful tools for interacting with computers. We have also begun exploring the concept of substrates in which instruments are made more powerful through the use of interactive structures, under the user's control.


The goal of this internship is to explore how we can use substrates as co-adaptive instruments to support creative professionals, either scientists or designers.

Specific Activities

After an initial review of the literature, the student will work with users to explore their current uses of interactive tools, then convert them into substrates and co-adaptive instruments. These instruments should enhance the interaction between users and the objects-of-interest, providing a mix of user-defined constraints and flexibility. The student will use wizard-of-oz or other methods to test the effectiveness of this instrument. This is a research stage designed to prepare the student for a Ph.D. grant.

Expected Results

Our goal is to produce a research paper for a top HCI conference, ideally CHI or DIS.

Required Skills

Students should have a strong interest in graphic or industrial design, ideally with some training or experience in using design tools,
as well as a computer science background, with experience using participatory design and evaluation techniques. Programming in C, C++, Java, or Javascript is important.


Beaudouin-Lafon, M. (2000) Instrumental Interaction. In Proceedings of ACM CHI 2000 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.
Beaudouin-Lafon, M. and Mackay, W. (2000) Reification, Polymorphism and Reuse: Three Principles for Designing Visual Interfaces. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Advanced Visual Interfaces (AVI 2000). ACM, pages 102-109.
Garcia, J., Tsandilas, T., Agon, C. and Mackay, W. (2012) Interactive Paper Substrates to Support Musical Creation. In Proceedings of ACM CHI 2012 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 1825-1828.
Mackay, W. (2000) Responding to cognitive overload: Co-adaptation between users and technology. Intellectica. Vol. 30 (1), pp. 177-193.
Mackay, W. (2008) From Gaia to HCI: On Multi-disciplinary Design and Co-adaptation. In HCI Remixed, Reflections on Works That Have Influenced the HCI Community, pages 247-251. MIT Press.


To apply, contact Wendy Mackay at: