Mr Howell Istance

Job: Principal Lecturer

Faculty: Technology

School/department: School of Computer Science and Informatics

Research group(s): Centre for Computational Intelligence

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 207 5460




Personal profile

My research interests lie primarily in the field of the human factors of interaction with computer interfaces using eye-gaze. The work is targeted at the needs of disabled users. I have worked for a number of years investigating ways to optimize interaction techniques for use with 2D desk top applications. More recently, my work has moved towards 3D gaze-based interaction techniques for use with large scale virtual environments and as well as internet-based virtual communities, such as SecondLife. I have a project currently running on this funded by DMU’s Institute of Creative Technologies (IOCT). This is a 3–year project with University of Tampere (UTA), IT University of Copenhagen and SpecialEffect (Oxford,UK) as partners. My PhD student, Steve Vickers, is funded full-time by this project.

I am also a member of COGAIN (COmmunication by GAze Interaction), the EU Framework 6 Research Network of Excellence.

Research group affiliations

Centre for Computational Intelligence.

Key research outputs

H. lstance, A. Hyrskykari, Gaze-Aware Systems and Attentive Applications, (chapter in) Gaze lnteraction and Applications of Eye Tracking: Advances in Assistive Technologies, lGl Global, New York, August 2011

H. lstance , A. Hyrskykari, L.lmmonen, S. Mansikkamaa, S. Vickers, Designing Gaze Gestures for Gaming: an lnvestigation of Performance. Proceedings of the ACM symposium on Eye tracking research & applications ETRA'10 ACM Press, New York, NY March 2010 

H. lstance, A. Hyrskykari, S. Vickers, T. Chaves (2009) For Your Eyes Only: Controlling 3D Online Games by Eye Gaze, Proceedings of 12lh lFlP conference on Human-Computer lnteraction: INTERACT 2009, Uppsala, Sweden,24-28th August 2009.

R. Bates, S. Vickers and H. O. Istance
Gaze interaction with virtual on-line communities: levelling the playing field for disabled users. Universal Access in the Information Society vol. 9, no. 3, 261-272

H. Istance, R. Bates, A. Hyrskykari, S. Vickers Snap clutch, a moded approach to solving the Midas touch problem. Proceedings of the ACM symposium on Eye tracking research & applications ETRA '08 ACM Press, New York, NY, 221-228. 2008.

Research interests/expertise

  • Human-computer interaction
  • Eye gaze communication
  • Accessible gaming
  • Gaze interaction techniques
  • Games and special needs education
  • Gaze gestures
  • Human performance modelling.

Areas of teaching


  • User Centred Web Interface Development
  • Multimedia and Internet Technology
  • Graphics and Interactive Modelling


  • Graphical Data - Interfaces, Visualisation and Representation
  • Research Methods


MSc lnformation Technology (CNAA), 1986; BSc Ergonomics (Loughborough) 1974

Courses taught

  • Creative Client Computing (1st Year Undergraduate, DMU)
  • C++ for Games (2nd Year Undergraduate, DMU)
  • Introduction to Computer Graphics and Interactive Modelling (2nd Year Undergraduate, DMU)
  • Research Methods and Statistics (Postgraduate, University of Tampere, Finland).

Honours and awards

Global Research Award, Royal Academy of Engineering, 2008.

Membership of external committees

  • Conference Co-Chair and Treasurer, ACM Eye tracking research & applications (ETRA) 2012, 2010
  • Steering Board member: COGAIN European Union Network of Excellence (2004-2009).

Membership of professional associations and societies

Association of Computing Machines (ACM), member.

Consultancy work

KTP Project No. 008844, DMU and Park Air Systems, Academic Advisor, 2013
Innovation Fellowship, UK Regional Development Fund, 2010, £16,000.

Current research students

Stephen Ackland, (PhD, 1st Supervisor)

Kirsten Wahlstrom (PhD, 2nd Supervisor)

Mohammed Alazawi (PhD, 2nd Supervisor)

Externally funded research grants information

EU Framework 6, Network of Excellence 2004-2009, £180,000 (DMU element)
Royal Academy of Engineering Global Research Award 2008-2009 £40,000.

Internally funded research project information

RIF project: Eye‐gaze interaction in support of education of children with physical disabilities, 2010, £10000.

Professional esteem indicators

  • Visiting Professor at TAUCHI, Department of Computer Sciences, University of Tampere, (2008-2009)
  • Conference Co-Chair ACM Conference Eyetracking Research and Applications ETRA 2010,2012
  • Conference Chair, COGAIN Conference Communication by Gaze Interaction, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
  • PhD External Examiner, Loughborough University, 2011, University of Tampere, 2006
  • Book Reviewer, MIT Press, 2012
  • Paper reviewer, Journal of Eye Movement Research, 2012
  • Paper Reviewer, ACM ASSETS Conference, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
  • Paper Reviewer, ACM Transactions on Interactive Intelligent Systems, 2011
  • Paper Reviewer, ACM Transactions on Human Computer Interaction, 2011
  • Paper reviewer, ACM Eyetracking Research and Applications Conference ETRA 2008, 2010,2012
  • Paper reviewer, ACM Computer-Human Interaction Conference CHI 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
  • Paper Reviewer for journal 'Presence: Teleoperators & Virtual Environments' (June 2008)
  • Paper reviewer for the journal 'IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems & Rehabilitation Engineering' (June 2007)
  • Key Note Speaker, ACM Eyetracking Research and Applications Conference, ETRA 2006, San Diego.

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