Award-winning Monash exertion games expert wins 2021 VIC Young Tall Poppy title

5 November 2021

Professor Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller, Director of the Exertion Games Lab, has been crowned a 2021 Victorian Young Tall Poppy for his work in challenging technological interactions that benefit the wellbeing of users.

Although technology is designed to make life easier, Professor Mueller is not convinced that it also makes life better – exemplified by the promotion of laziness and its contributions to the global obesity epidemic. As a result, his research focuses on integrating more physical exertion opportunities.

‘Traditional human-computer interaction is aimed at making devices “easy-to-use”. In contrast, I have argued that “hard-to-use interfaces” can have many advantages. Think of games like Pokemon Go, for example, where users are encouraged to move rather than sit in one spot and tap their screen.’ said Professor Mueller.

His long-standing research in Exertion Interfaces has helped industry and academia understand the importance of integrating physical exertion into the design of human-computer interfaces (HCI), leading to the worldwide increase in gross-motor interfaces like Nike+, whole-body interfaces like Kinect and exertion games like Nintendo Wii.

Professor Mueller also actively engages the public in interactive prototypes to create more human-centred technologies. For example, his project the ‘Interactive Skate Park’ increased public interest in skateboarding by creating technology that allowed users to feel the skater’s haptic sensations through vibrations.

‘I’m passionate about allowing laypeople to experience future technology first-hand, so they can develop their own informed opinions about the role technology should play in their lives, rather than echoing opinions on social media.’ explained Professor Mueller.

Professor Mueller is a member of the Department of Human-Centred Computing. He has written over 250 publications on HCI, particularly about digital games that help players stay physically and mentally healthy. He has also received 11 Best Paper and Honourable Mention Awards.

Organised by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS), the annual Tall Poppy Awards celebrate the achievements of Australian scientists. The winners promote interest and enthusiasm in science among the community, particularly in students and teachers.

The 2021 Young Tall Poppy award ceremony was held on Tuesday 26 October over Zoom, and the replay is now available.