Professor Tracy Harwood

Job: Professor of Digital Culture

Faculty: Computing, Engineering and Media

School/department: Leicester Media School

Research group(s): Institute of Creative Technologies (IOCT)

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

T: +44 (0)116 207 8028




Personal profile

Twitter @tgharwood | @ioct_dmu | @ArtAIfestival
Skype Tracy.Harwood

Research group affiliations

Institute of Creative Technologies

Institute of Artificial Intelligence

Institute for Applied Economics & Social Value: Marketing Sub-Group

Publications and outputs

  • A Commentary on Culture, Sustainability and Market Transformations
    dc.title: A Commentary on Culture, Sustainability and Market Transformations Harwood, Tracy dc.description.abstract: In this retrospective commentary, I reflect on two of MGDR’s most downloaded articles to examine how the ideas presented in each position research for the seventh year of the MGDR journal. The articles selected are Fırat’s (2016) commentary on “The dynamics of the local and the global: implications for marketing and development” and Gonen’s (2019) review of Brown’s book in “Tim Brown, change by design: how design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation (2009)”. These two articles are, at least in my reading of them, complementary in that both address the significance of attending to culture in markets, alluding to the importance for humanity in finding new ways to tackle modern challenges of sustainability by connecting global and local contexts. But whilst the articles have been popular downloads (respectively, 4,868 and 25,674 at the time of writing), review suggests they have not been widely integrated into scientific [marketing] discourse with, according to Google Scholar, 7 and 12 citations apiece. So, what of the qualitative evaluation of the points raised in these articles? The next section briefly summarizes the articles before I comment on their synergies, impacts and implications for future. dc.description: open access article
  • AHRC Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre Project
    dc.title: AHRC Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre Project Harwood, Tracy; Mohammed, Zainab dc.description.abstract: AHRC funded Design Exchange Partnership (Design Museum/InnovateUK) Design Researcher: Zainab Mohammed Principal Investigator: Prof Tracy Harwood Organization Partner Lead: Stuart Frazer (Centre Manager) This project evaluated passive design concepts that utilise renewable and recyclable sources of materials thereby emitting zero carbon and minimising materials waste. Design concepts proposed maximise use of natural daylight and ventilation creating a healthy built environment for users, and use renewable sources of energy which can be generated on site. The nature of the 15-acres flood plain site requires considerable environmental empathy to be built into its future development scheme. LOPC has 150 years of heritage as a venue for river, target, climbing and adventure educational activities engaging Leicester-based community groups and also has ambition to become a national centre for some activities in the future. The project team, comprising the LOPC manager, Stuart Fraser, Tracy Harwood, Professor of Digital Culture at the Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University and Zainab Mohammed, an architecture postgraduate researcher studying for a PhD in sustainable architecture at De Montfort University, have explored design concepts that address user needs on the complex LOPC site. The way in which stakeholder needs can be integrated into developments of this nature and how they are reflected in design processes are areas that the project team are interested in developing new insight into from the different perspectives of research and practice. The project outcomes are intended to assist LOPC to develop and prioritise plans for incremental redevelopment by identifying short and longer-term actions it may take that deliver its net zero goals. Data included comprises reports from completed project activities. The project includes deliverables (presentations, report, drawings, renders) and instruments used in data collection. dc.description: Collaborator: Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre Design Researcher: Zainab Mohammed
  • The interplay between perceived usability and visual design quality in tablet game interfaces
    dc.title: The interplay between perceived usability and visual design quality in tablet game interfaces Kokil, Uttam; Harwood, Tracy dc.description.abstract: Research in Human Computer Interaction has shown inconsistencies in the relationship between the perception of usability and visual design in digital products. Research is lacking in the domain of tablet gaming related to the visual design of screen user interfaces. Despite extensive research on visual aesthetics and perceived usability, limited best practice guidance from a user-centered design perspective exists. The objectives of this study are twofold: firstly, to employ design-oriented methodology to create a real iOS tablet game app starting from ideation, focus groups, iterative prototyping, usability testing, followed by an empirical evaluation with game participants. Secondly, to use experimental methods to examine the role of visual design quality on perceived usability and user engagement in tablet game interfaces. In phase I, we designed and developed a real iOS game; the user interface was rendered into two visual design conditions for hypothesis testing. In phase II, we recruited 56 participants designated to play each game condition for 10 minutes using a within-subject design. We administered the Multidimensional Mood, Attrakdiff, and User Engagement Scale questionnaires for data collection. Findings demonstrate that a higher visual design quality does not necessarily promote perceived usability and both low and high visual design quality significantly influenced perceive usability. Participants experienced a higher level of user engagement in the high visual design game interface. Game learnability, an attribute of inherent product usability, played an important part as participants quickly became familiar with the game mechanics. They rated perceived usability of the game conditions to be equivalent. dc.description: The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. Open access journal
  • Pandemic, human precarity and post-pandemic metaverses
    dc.title: Pandemic, human precarity and post-pandemic metaverses Harwood, Tracy dc.description.abstract: With the global COVID-19 pandemic and its continuing impacts, we have reached a nexus which places new emphasis on our understanding of ourselves and our relationship with others – other nations, other species, other worlds. A critical question is: Does this mean that our transition into the posthuman is complete? It is therefore with some interest that this Dialogue contribution approaches the review of Francesca Ferrando’s book (2019) titled Philosophical Posthumanism. Prior to and after the detailed review of the book, this Dialogue essay reflects on the precarity induced by the pandemic and possible socio-technological ways out of the current predicament. dc.description: open access article
  • Pioneers in Machinima
    dc.title: Pioneers in Machinima Harwood, Tracy; Grussi, Ben dc.description.abstract: This important new work focuses on the pioneers in machinima, considered to be the grassroots and beginnings of virtual production. Machinima’s impacts are identified by the community, supplemented by Harwood and Grussi’s research and experience over a period of 25 years – from game, film and filmmaking to digital arts practice, creative technologies developments and related research and theory. Machinima is the first digital cultural practice to have emerged from the internet into a mainstream creative genre. Its latest transformation is evident through the increasing convergence of games and film where real-time virtual production as a professional creative practice is resulting in new forms of machine-generated interactive experiences. Using the most culturally significant machinima works (machine-cinema) as lenses to trace its history and impacts, ‘Pioneers in Machinima: The Grassroots of Virtual Production’ provides in-depth testimony by filmmakers and others involved in its emergence. The extensive reference to source materials and interviews bring the story of its impacts up to date through the critical reflections of the early pioneers. This book will be of interest to machinima researchers and practitioners, including game culture, media theorists, students of film studies and game studies, digital artists and those interested in how creative technologies have influenced communities of practice over time.
  • Value Transformation: From Online Community to Business Benefit
    dc.title: Value Transformation: From Online Community to Business Benefit Harwood, Tracy; Boomer, Jason; Garry, Tony dc.description.abstract: The aim of this chapter is to shed light on the generation and transformation of values through the production and consumption of ‘Let’s Play’, as a new area of practice in the creative economy. Let’s Play emerged from the practice of machinima, ‘animated filmmaking within a real-time virtual 3D environment’, and is referred to as non-narrative machinima taking the form of video game walk-throughs, reviews and other gameplay videos that are live-streamed to fan followers and archived in curated playlists. Whilst this form of user-generated content will become increasingly pivotal to the digital economy and to new emergent forms, the value of this important creative form remains largely undocumented. Drawing on empirical data, this chapter examines the value associated with economic, cultural, social and symbolic capital of Let’s Play as an emergent creative form.
  • Artificial Intelligence in the healthcare of older people
    dc.title: Artificial Intelligence in the healthcare of older people Makaetova-Ladinska, Elizabeta; Harwood, Tracy; Maltby, John dc.description.abstract: Clinical applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare are relatively rare. The high expectations in relation to data analysis influencing general healthcare have not materialized, with few exceptions, and then predominantly in the field of rare diseases, oncology and pathology, and interpretation of laboratory results. While electronic health records, introduced over the last decade or so in the UK have increased access to medical and treatment histories of patients, diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, immunization dates, allergies, radiology images, laboratory and test results, these have potential for evidence-based tools that providers can use to make decisions about a patient’s care, as well as streamline workflow. In the following text, we review the advances achieved using machine learning and deep learning technology, as well as robot use and telemedicine in the healthcare of older people. Key points: 1. Artificial Intelligence use is extensively explored in prevention, diagnosis, novel drug designs and after-care. 2. AI studies on older adults include a small number of patients and lack reproducibility needed for their wider clinical use in different clinical settings and larger populations. 3. Telemedicine and robot assisted technology are well received by older service users. 4. Ethical concerns need to be resolved prior to wider AI use in routine clinical setting. dc.description: open access article
  • Design Fiction Diegetic Prototyping: A Research Framework for Visualizing Service Innovations
    dc.title: Design Fiction Diegetic Prototyping: A Research Framework for Visualizing Service Innovations Harwood, Tracy; Garry, Tony; Belk, Russell dc.description.abstract: Purpose: This paper presents a design fiction diegetic prototyping methodology and research framework for investigating service innovations that reflect future uses of new and emerging technologies. Design/methodology/approach: Drawing on speculative fiction, we propose a methodology that positions service innovations within a six-stage research development framework. We begin by reviewing and critiquing designerly approaches that have traditionally been associated with service innovations and futures literature. In presenting our framework, we provide an example of its application to the Internet of Things (IoT), illustrating the central tenets proposed and key issues identified. Findings: The research framework advances a methodology for visualizing future experiential service innovations, considering how realism may be integrated into a designerly approach. Research limitations/implications: Design fiction diegetic prototyping enables researchers to express a range of ‘what if’ or ‘what can it be’ research questions within service innovation contexts. However, the process encompasses degrees of subjectivity and relies on knowledge, judgment and projection. Practical implications: The paper presents an approach to devising future service scenarios incorporating new and emergent technologies in service contexts. The proposed framework may be used as part of a range of research designs, including qualitative, quantitative and mixed method investigations. Originality: Operationalizing an approach that generates and visualizes service futures from an experiential perspective contributes to the advancement of techniques that enables the exploration of new possibilities for service innovation research. dc.description: The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) art in care of ageing society: focus on dementia
    dc.title: Role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) art in care of ageing society: focus on dementia Harwood, Tracy; Mukaetova-Ladinska, Elizabeta; Maltby, John dc.description.abstract: Background: Art enhances both physical and mental health wellbeing. The health benefits include reduction in blood pressure, heart rate, pain perception and briefer inpatient stays, as well as improvement of communication skills and self-esteem. In addition to these, people living with dementia benefit from reduction of their noncognitive, behavioural changes, enhancement of their cognitive capacities and being socially active. Methods: The current study represents a narrative general literature review on available studies and knowledge about contribution of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in creative arts. Results: We review AI visual arts technologies, and their potential for use among people with dementia and care, drawing on similar experiences to date from traditional art in dementia care. Conclusion: The virtual reality, installations and the psychedelic properties of the AI created art provide a new venue for more detailed research about its therapeutic use in dementia. dc.description: open access article
  • Cyborgs as Frontline Service Employees: A Research Agenda
    dc.title: Cyborgs as Frontline Service Employees: A Research Agenda Harwood, Tracy; Garry, Tony dc.description.abstract: Purpose This paper identifies and explores potential applications of cyborgian technologies within service contexts and how service providers may leverage the integration of cyborgian service actors into their service proposition. In doing so, the paper proposes a new category of ‘melded’ frontline service employees (FLEs), where advanced technologies become embodied within human actors. The paper presents potential opportunities and challenges that may arise through cyborg technological advancements and proposes a future research agenda related to these. Design/methodology This study draws on literature in the fields of services management, Artificial Intelligence [AI], robotics, Intelligence Augmentation [IA] and Human Intelligence [HIs] to conceptualise potential cyborgian applications. Findings The paper examines how cyborg bio- and psychophysical characteristics may significantly differentiate the nature of service interactions from traditional ‘unenhanced’ service interactions. In doing so, we propose ‘melding’ as a conceptual category of technological impact on FLEs. This category reflects the embodiment of emergent technologies not previously captured within existing literature on cyborgs. We examine how traditional roles of FLEs will be potentially impacted by the integration of emergent cyborg technologies, such as neural interfaces and implants, into service contexts before outlining future research directions related to these, specifically highlighting the range of ethical considerations. Originality/Value Service interactions with cyborg FLEs represent a new context for examining the potential impact of cyborgs. This paper explores how technological advancements will alter the individual capacities of humans to enable such employees to intuitively and empathetically create solutions to complex service challenges. In doing so, we augment the extant literature on cyborgs, such as the body hacking movement. The paper also outlines a research agenda to address the potential consequences of cyborgian integration. dc.description: The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.

Click here for a full listing of Tracy Harwood‘s publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

Professor Harwood's research focusses on applications and impacts of emerging technologies. Current projects explore the use of artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), virtual/augmented/mixed reality (VR/AR/MR). She has an industry management background and has a PhD in negotiation behaviour.  She is director of the university’s Usability Lab (see, is also founder and director of the award-winning Art AI Festival (see and a co-host of international podcast, And Now For Something Completely Machinima (see

Harwood is a specialist in interdisciplinary research using mixed methods research design and has taught on post-graduate and research development programmes on this approach, latterly focussing on practice-based research. She is published in leading marketing and digital creativity journals, including Journal of Services Management, Journal of Service Marketing, Journal of Consumer Behaviour, Leonardo, Digital Creativity and Journal of Visual Culture. She is Area Editor for the European Innovation Alliance's Endorsed Transactions on Creative Technologies and a Programme Committee Member of the IEEE International Conference on Creative Lifestyle Computing.

Her latest book, Pioneers in Machinima: The Grassroots of Virtual Production, is a critical review of the emergence of machine-cinema, co-authored with the original community manager of

Areas of teaching

Creative Technologies

Digital Culture

Creative Industries 

Marketing and consumer behaviour

Research methods

Courses taught

MA Digital Arts

MA/MSc Creative Technologies

MSc Creative Industries Management 

Practice-Based Research Doctoral Training Programme

Honours and awards

De Montfort University Teacher Fellow, 2003 

HEA National Teacher Fellow, 2004

Membership of professional associations and societies

Fellow, Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

Higher Education Academy National Teacher Fellow (NTF)

Fellow, Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (FRSA)

Fellow, National Conference of University Professors (FNCUP)

Forthcoming events

Co-Chair: International Colloquium on Relationship Management, postponed til Sept 2021 (see

Consultancy work

Usability and User Experience (UX) - see

Creative Industries

Digital Economy

Creative Technologies and Smart Cities

Current research students

Adolola, I., Adaptive interface for better accessibility for mobile applications in developing countries (First), Apr 2021

Boomer, J., Community‐building through culture: How two‐way acculturation is used in building sustainable online gaming communities, awarded a DMU scholarship (First) Jan 2021

Carroll, S., Artificial intelligence as a learning tool for identifying and categorising artworks from computational creative practice and historical computer-generated metadata, awarded Midlands 4 Cities Collaborative Doctoral Award, working with Computer Arts Archive (First) Oct 2021

Fakehinde, D., iMuseum: Intelligent, interactive virtual musem for conserving and celebrating the history of Leicester's multicultural population (Second) Oct 2021

Frize, J., Breadboarding as musical practice (Second)

Khairul, K., Cybernetic Actions: harnessing digital reality technologies towards developing actor training approaches, awarded a DMU scholarship (Second) Oct 2020

Morley, D., Design materiality and synaesthesia: developing methodologies to effectively utilise visual-tactile interplay within printable substrates to enchance graphic communication (First), Apr 2022

Palfreyman, L., Exploring how AR is changing the sense of space and place in the city (First) Oct 2020

Uwins, M., Immersive soundscapes for retail performance management (Second)

Wang, R., Artifiical intelligence technologies in interactive theatre (First) Oct 2020

Wei, L., An exploratory model for e-learning in creative music education (Second), Oct 2021

Weller, R., Exploration of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals as a foundation for creating ethical guidelines in the context of Social Networking Sites (Second) Jan 2021

Completed –

Kokil, Uttam (2019) Comparative study of two user experience models and their application in computer gaming (First).

Almakky, Abeer (2017), Safety-critical medical devices, changing patterns of interaction with insulin pump: an analytical framework (Second).

Lataifah, Mohammad (2015), Using design thinking to facilitate information technology service (First). 

Chang, Jimmy Man Tsun (2007), The impact of strategic partnering on performance in garment manufacturer-supplier relationships in the Hong Kong garment manufacturing industry (Second).

Externally funded research grants information

2022 British Science Festival, Art AI Festival, £6,350

2022 EPSRC UK-RAS Network Pump Priming: Industrial Automation and Optimisation: Human Robot Collaboration, Corobotics and Autonomous Systems (PI Prof Philip Breedon/NTU, CI Prof Marc Hanheide/Lincoln)

2022 Heritage Lottery Fund (Leicester City Council), Art AI Festival £12,680

2021-22 AHRC (InnovateUK & Design Museum) 'Net Zero' Design Challenge Pilot Scheme (AH/W008173/1) Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre, with Zainab Muhammed, £16,043

2020 Arts Council England, £60,250 (ACPG-00196790) Art AI Festival, Leicester City Council (£3,000), Phoenix (£5,000) plus in-kind support

2019 Arts Council England, £14,999 (ACPG-00164056) Art AI Festival

2018 InnovateUK Audiences of the Future (PI: Sophy Smith), £205,528 (total project £6.58M): Immersive performances of the future (partners: Royal Shakespeare Company, The Philharmonia Orchestra, Punchdrunk International, Manchester International Festival (MIF), Jingo Juice Ltd t/a Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF), Magic Leap, Intel, Epic Games, NESTA, i2 media, Goldsmiths University, Uni Portsmouth, Arts Council England, The Space, Phi Centre Montreal)

2017 InnovateUK Knowledge Transfer Partnership Scheme (KTP010965): Serendipity Artists Movement Limited, business development, £109,948

2017 University of Otago (PI Dr Tony Garry) Cyborg and relationship marketing research project development, NZ$20,000

2015 InternetNZ (PI Dr Tony Garry) Compromising Privacy for Convenience and Wellbeing on the Internet of Things, NZ$30,224

2014 University of Otago (PI Dr Tony Garry) Compromising Privacy for Convenience and Wellbeing on the Internet of Things, NZ$5,000

2014 AHRC Cultural Values Project (AH/L014203/1): Machinima: an investigation into the contribution of participatory user-generated machine-cinema to cultural values, £47,563.

2009 Knowledge Transfer Partnerships Scheme: Phoenix Square digital arts centre (KTP007720), international audience development for digital arts, £125,445.

2009 Knowledge Transfer Partnerships Scheme: Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People (KTP007325), social media development strategy, £93,319. 

2008 Arts and Humanities Research Council Catalyst Scheme: Creative Skills Workshops, £16,706.

Internally funded research project information

2022 HEIF: Pure Tabletop (PI: Mario Gongora)

2021/2 HEIF: Virtual Mobility 1 and 2

2021/2 RIF: Art AI Festival impact evaluation

2020/1 De Montfort University £65,000, Art AI Festival

2019 De Montfort University £10,000, Art AI Festival

2018 De Montfort University, Art-AI Festival (May), Leicester, £4,000 (plus in kind support from partners Hammerson, Phoenix and Elliott)

2016 Confucius Institute and #DMULocal: Creative Technologies in the Public Realm, conference (with Dr Sophy Smith)

2011 HEIF5: Usability Lab 

2010 HIEF4: Creative Industries Supply Chains

Professional esteem indicators

Area Editor, European Alliance for Innovation’s Transactions on Creative Technologies

Programme Committee member: IEEE International Conference on Creative Lifestyle Computing

Current editorial review board memberships –

Journal of Creativity & Human Development (; Netdreamer Publications

Reviewer for –

Psychology & Marketing, Journal of Marketing Management, Journal of Consumer Behaviour, Journal of Consumer Research, Management Decision, Journal of Marketing Communications, Direct Marketing, Convergence, Creativity & Human Development International, Asia-Pacific Journal of Business Administration, IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems for Video Technology, Journal of Interactive Marketing, Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, Packaging Technology and Science; and conferences: Academy of Marketing, European Marketing Academy, Australia & New Zealand Marketing Academy, CIGCHI Creativity & Cognition, Eye-Tracking South Africa annual conference, Higher Education Academy Annual Conference, Digital Arts and Culture Annual Conference, ISEA, International Conference on Computer Science & Application Engineering (CSAE 2018)

Usability Lab

An industry facing contract research Lab, specialing in using mobile technologies to support R&D and provide insight into all aspects of product and service usability. 


Art AI Festival

World leading festival celebrating creative applications of the latest artificial intelligence technologies.  The Art AI Festival is a collaboration with international curator, Luba Elliott, working in partnership with Phoenix and Highcross Shopping Centre.  


Legacy website is at

And Now For Something Completely Machinima

An international podcast exploring the past, present and future of machine cinema #machinima #virtualproduction #realtime filmmaking, including VR