Skip navigation

Prof Professor John Vines

Professor of Design

Department: Northumbria School of Design

I’m a designer by background, and most of my current research is located in the fields of human-computer interaction (HCI) and participatory design.

Before joining Northumbria School of Design as a Professor I was an academic at Open Lab, Newcastle University, with whom I still have many ongoing collaborations. Prior to this I have held post-doctoral positions at both Newcastle (2012-2014) and Northumbria (2010-2012) Universities, and conducted my PhD research at the University of Plymouth (2007-2010).

My research focuses on the study of how people experience, appropriate and use digital technologies in their everyday lives. I often take a research through design approach, which for me involves designing new digital prototypes, artefacts and “things” with citizens, and studying the creation and use of these prototypes to generate knowledge that is both valuable to designers and advances our understanding of social phenomena. I am specifically interested in how technology is interwoven with issues such as independence and agency in later life, could support informal and relational care for people of all ages, and might help scaffold “friendly” and “caring” communities. I also have experience and ongoing interests in human experience and technology design as it relates to self-care, trust, security and empathic communication. Generally, I’m intrigued by the ways in which digital technologies might support new interactions and engagements between people in relation to these issues, rather than be used to replace human contact (as is often the case).

Along with the above, a large amount of my research examines the practical and ethical dimensions of conducting participatory design (and participatory research in general) with citizens, especially in sensitive contexts and with people with heightened vulnerabilities. Therefore I have an ongoing interest in understanding the methods and techniques used for involving people in design and research processes, and have been involved in a series of professional events and journal special issues unpicking the ethical encounters faced when conducting participatory and technology oriented research with participants.

I am currently working on a range of projects involving the design of technologies with communities, examining issues (among others) such as social isolation among carers, intergenerational conversation around dementia, advice and information sharing in health support groups, advocacy and the measuring of outcomes in charities, and community decision making around care services. More details can be found on my personal website:

Campus Address

Room 306C Squires
Northumbria University

+44 (0)191 215 6338


PhD, MA, BA (Hons)

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

  • Methods and processes for participatory, collaborative and experience-centred design and research.
  • Digitally enriched social care.
  • Technology across the life-course and in later-life.
  • Age-friendly and dementia-friendly communities.
  • Ethics of digital technology field trials and research with vulnerable populations.
  • Participatory processes in civic and community contexts.
  • Design processes in public sector and not-for-profit sector organisations.
  • Experience-centred security and privacy.
  • Finance and money-management for financially/digitally excluded.

Professional Activity

General Chair of Research Through Design (RTD) 2015 and Designing Pleasurable Products and Interfaces (DPPI) 2013 conferences, and steering committee member of RTD conference series.

Member of EPSRC, ESRC and NIHR peer-review colleges.

Vice-Chair of ACM SIGCHI UK Professional Chapter.

Organising committee member of RTD 2017, PDC 2016/2018.

Programme committee member of ACM CHI 2014-2016, ACM UbiComp 2016, ACM DIS 2014 & 2017, Critical Alternatives 2015, ACM C&C 2013.

Guest Editor of special issues for CoDesign, Design Issues, and International Journal of Human-Computer Studies.

Co-organiser of 10 workshops and special interest sessions at leading HCI and Design conferences (ACM CHI, DIS, DRS) on topics of participatory practices, processes of participation in design projects, and issues of ethics and empathy in HCI research.

Sponsors and Collaborators

Research funders: ESRC, EPSRC, AHRC, NIHR, Dstl, Google.

External collaborators: Oxfam, Barclays Bank, Payments Council UK, Age UK, Newcastle City Council, Northumberland County Council, Haringey Council, Durham County Council, NHS NewcastleGateshead CCG, Carers Northumberland, Youth Focus North East, Philips, Enhanced Care, BBC, Campaign to End Loneliness, BT.

University collaborators: Newcastle University (Open Lab, Language and Linguistics, Health and Social Science, Business School), University of Edinburgh (Design Informatics, Computer Science), Lancaster University (Computer Science), University of Nottingham (Race and Rights, International Relations), Durham University (Education), Loughborough University (Drama), University of Bath (Psychology), University of Exeter (Psychology), University of York (Interactive Media), Aarhus University (PIT Lab, Informatics), University of Bristol (Computing and Engineering).

Current/Recent Projects

EPSRC (cross-council Trust, Identity, Privacy and Security programme):  Co-Investigator - Ox-Chain: Towards secure and trustworthy circular economies through distributed ledger technologies.  Led by Chris Speed (Edinburgh).  2016-2019.

NIHR (HS&DR): Co-Investigator - Innovation to enhance health in care homes, rapid evidence synthesis.  Led by Professor Barbara Hanratty (Newcastle University).  2016-2017.

EPSRC: Co-Investigator - Digital Economy Research Centre (DERC): Led by Patrick Olivier (Newcastle University). 2015-2020.

EPSRC (SPHERE IRC Partnership Resource): Co-Investigator – Designing Interfaces for Sensible Sensing. Led by Rob Comber (Newcastle). 2015-2016.

ESRC (Impact Accelerator Account): Co-Investigator - DemYouth: Co-production of dementia communications technology for and with young people. Led by Tony Young (Newcastle). 2015-2017.

ESRC (cross-council and Dstl EMoTICON programme):  Co-Investigator – Loneliness in the Digital Age.  Led by Mike Wilson (Loughborough).  2014-2017.

ESRC (cross-council and Dstl EMoTICON programme):  Co-Investigator – Challenging Online Fear and Othering.  Led by Shaun Lawson (Northumbria).  2014-2017.

ESRC (cross-council and Dstl EMoTICON programme):  Co-Investigator – The Trust Map.  Led by Karen Salt (Nottingham).  2014-2017.

Google: Co-Investigator – Google Glass Research Award. Led by Patrick Olivier (Newcastle). 2013-2014.

Payments Council UK: Principal Investigator – Financial Inclusion for Households on Low Incomes. 2013.

Key Publications

Vines, J., McNaney, R., Holden, A., Poliakov, I., Wright, P., and Olivier, P. 2017. Our Year with the Glass: Expectations, Letdowns and Ethical Dilemmas of Technology Trials with Vulnerable People. Interacting with Computers, online first DOI:

Johnson, I.,Vines, J.,Taylor, N., Jenkins, E., and Marshall, J. 2016. Reflections on Deploying Distributed Consultation Technologies with Community Organisations. In: Proceedings of the 2016 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 7 – 12 May 2016, San Jose, USA. DOI:

Vines, J., Pritchard, G., Wright, P., Olivier, P., and Brittain, K. 2015. An Age Old Problem: Examining the Discourses of Ageing in HCI and Strategies for Future Research. ACM Transaction on Computer-Human Interaction, 22, 1, article 2. DOI:

Vines, J., Wright, P., Silver, D., Winchcombe, M., and Olivier, P. 2015. Authenticity, Relatability and Collaborative Approaches to Sharing Knowledge about Assistive Living Technology. In: Proceedings of the 2015 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW ’15), 14 – 18 March 2015, Vancouver, Canada. DOI:

Vines, J., Lindsay, S., Pritchard, G., Lie, M., Greathead, D., Olivier, P., and Brittain, K. 2013. Making Family Care Work: Dependency, Privacy and Remote Home Monitoring Technologies. In: Proceedings of the 2013 ACM Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing, 8 – 12 September 2013, Zurich, Switzerland. DOI:

Vines, J., Clarke, R., Wright, P., McCarthy, J., and Olivier, P. 2013. Configuring Participation: On How We Involve Users in Design. In: Proceedings of the 2013 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 27 April – 2 May 2013, Paris, France, pp. 429 - 438. DOI:

For a full list please view

PGR Supervision

I am an experienced PhD supervisor and I’m always looking to meet new would-be research students with interests that overlap with some of mine:

Current postgraduate supervision:

Lizzie Dutton, Newcastle University: Designing product and service design-concepts to enable people with memory problems to live physically active lifestyles (2014 to present).

Tess Denman-Cleaver, Newcastle University: Landscape Performance and Performance Philosophy (2013 – present).

Neil Davidson, Newcastle University: Educating Teenagers at Risk of Anaphylaxis (2013 – present).

Mohammad Othman, Newcastle University: CrowdSourcing and Participatory Research (2014 – present).

Ian Johnson, Newcastle University: Participatory Budgeting in Rural Communities (2015 – present).

Sunil Rodger, Newcastle University: Disability, Mobility and Experience as Evidence (2015 – present).

Andrew Dow, Newcastle University: Feedback and Participatory Innovation in Social Care (2015 – present).

Matthew Marshall, Newcastle University: Open and Accountable Finances in Non-Profits (2015 – present).

Completed students:

Dr. Roisin McNaney, Newcastle University: Self-Management Technologies for People with Parkinson’s (2013 – 2016).


Northumbria Open Days

Open Days are a great way for you to get a feel of the University, the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the course(s) you are interested in.

Research at Northumbria

Research at Northumbria

Research is the life blood of a University and at Northumbria University we pride ourselves on research that makes a difference; research that has application and affects people's lives.


Order your prospectus

If you would like to know more about our courses, or life in general as a student at Northumbria, then we can help you.

Latest News and Features

Moving beyond devolution

The UK’s most important conference on devolution takes place in two weeks’ time in Leeds. It…

More news

Back to top