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Usability Lab


The Usability Lab is a unique service offering bespoke consultancy and funding support. We take a holistic approach, working in partnership with you to find the best fit with a range of disciplines from across the university.

This combination of unique research areas and knowledge adds strength to our research offer and outputs.

We have a scalable approach ranging from investigating the way individuals respond to stimuli, through to understanding group behaviours in urban environments and open spaces. We conduct research within the Usability Lab and in the field, using mobile technologies.

Supported by technology partners – Acuity ETS, Verint and Quividi – we specialise in understanding the relationships between consumers and users, environmental stimuli and design solutions.

Our state-of-the-art facilities include novel techniques and new technologies. Our research captures and assesses a range of human responses to products, services and environments such as:

  • Human performance and behaviour
  • Human psycho-physiological responses
  • The impact of design factors on behaviours
  • Human-computer interactions
  • Virtual and real world comparisons
  • Interaction and development of augmented reality

We also welcome enquiries from potential PhD students.

Key features and capabilities

Taking a holistic approach to problem solving, we utilise the university's wide experience in commercial and applied research to support businesses in their progression and growth.

We draw on expertise from across De Montfort University including:

Institute of Creative Technologies (IOCT)

A research institute specialising in working across science and technologies, art and design, and humanities disciplines. Research projects include investigating new performance technologies, robotics and virtual environments. The Usability Lab is part of the IOCT.

Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD)

Drawing on 30 years of cutting-edge expertise in sustainability, the IESD specialises in the clean, efficient use of energy in the built environment and ways in which greater use can be made of renewable energy in the built environment.

Interactive and Media Technologies

A group of researchers from across the Faculty of Technology and beyond with a common interest in interactivity and media technology. The group carries out cutting-edge research in areas such as audio acoustics, video and graphics, physical human interfaces, virtual and augmented reality, and mobile technologies.

Imaging and Displays Research Group

A group of multidisciplinary academics who have earned an international reputation for excellence in the design, development and evaluation of next-generation three-dimensional (3D) displays and holography for consumer and industrial use.

Health and Life Sciences

Working with the Allied Health Sciences department and the Division of Psychology, Health and Life Sciences' areas of expertise include psycho-physiological behaviour and responses. 


We offer three types of services to meet your business needs:

1. Research consultancy

We will be happy to discuss your research needs in detail.

2. Funding support for research and consultancy

We work with colleagues across the university and in partnership with industry, helping you to identify and apply for industry research opportunities through a range of UK Government and EU-backed schemes, including Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and funding body calls.

3. Bespoke training

We can provide training in a range of research methods, including qualitative and quantitative techniques. 

Who we have worked with

Gevco (Global Electric Vehicle Company)/MIRA

A collaboration based in the East Midlands developing a new ‘ECity’ electric vehicle for the iPod generation wanted insight into the interests of target consumers.

Gevco and MIRA, the design engineering and testing specialists, conducted focus group research at the Usability Lab, moderated by a research team member and audio-visually recorded using different camera angles to capture consumer responses.

Gevco and MIRA observed the proceedings from behind the Lab’s one-way mirror. Findings have been incorporated into the vehicle’s concept development.

Florida Group

The owners and manufacturers of the Van Dal shoe brand, based in Norwich, wanted insight into their target consumers’ responses to new merchandising and concept

Next PLC

A multinational retailer with its head office in Leicester wanted a better understanding of consumer responses to their store layouts.

The research team investigated consumer behaviour on-site using fixed tracking and mobile equipment, working with international technology partners.

Findings are being used to improve store performance across the company’s estate.

Speedo International Ltd

The global swimwear brand with its international headquarters in Nottingham wanted a better understanding of the impact of their packaging on consumers from different parts of the world.

The research team investigated consumer behaviour at DMU using mobile and fixed position tracking equipment, in conjunction with virtual modelling provided by the Faculty of Technology’s Game Art group. Findings are being used to improve product displays, packaging designs and store layouts store.

Contact us

Dr Tracy Harwood

Senior Research Fellow/National Teacher Fellow, Institute of Creative Technologies, Faculty of Technology

T: +44 (0)116 207 8028


Research degrees

PhD study areas and experienced supervisors available. For further information and to discuss your research interests, please email


Usability Lab, Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester LE1 9BH, UK 

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