Evaluation of Natural User Interfaces in Search Technology

Project overview

Dynamic query suggestions (DQS) are the queries (or answers) presented to users in the course of typing a query into a search box, and typically change with each additional key stroke.

This research project is examining multiple design and effectiveness aspects of current and future DQS web search systems, with an emphasis on experiences that support mobility via smart phones, tablets or augmented reality systems.

The researchers will investigate specific DQS systems operating via a browser on a desktop computer versus operating on a smart phone and the impact of different screensizes. As typing is slower and more difficult on a mobile phone latencies are higher and screens are smaller. The team are seeking to understand if these differences change the way in which users interact with the DQS and do users rely more or less on DQS. In addition to exploring if there are ways in which DQS should work differently on a mobile device.

Via studies undertaken with real users the research team seek to understand how well do different DQS systems support a user in satisfying their information needs and if there are recognised differences in users in their use of DQS on different hardware platforms. Building on the findings from these studies the team aim to develop NUI interaction techniques for the DQS mobility scenarios to explore the effectiveness of NUI-based interactions and information retrieval.

The goal of the project is to design, develop and deploy DQS prototypes that incorporate natural user interface techniques, such as voice search, and to experiment with and measure their use among users.


This project is a collaboration between Microsoft and the Microsoft Research Centre for Social Natural User Interfaces (SocialNUI) at the University of Melbourne.

Microsoft logo and SocialNUI logo

Project team

  • Alistair Moffat, Professor, School of Computing and Information Systems, University of Melbourne
  • Justin Zobel, , Professor & Head, School of Computing and Information Systems, University of Melbourne
  • Peter Bailey, Principal Applied Scientist, Microsoft
  • David Hawking, Partner Architect, Microsoft
  • Bodo von Billerbeck, Senior Applied Scientist, Microsoft
  • Unnikrishnan Thoombayil Asokan, PhD Candidate, Microsoft Research Centre for SocialNUI, University of Melbourne

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