About Me

imageI’m principal design manager in Microsoft Research’s Cambridge lab. Working as part of the Human Experience & Design group, I collaborate with social scientists and computer scientists in the lab, on a broad range of projects that span device development, community engagements, gestural interaction and more.

I’m author of “The Future of Looking Back”, a book which focuses on new digital legacies and the impact they’ll have on how we reminisce about our lives. I’m an honorary professor of design for the University of Dundee, a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and external examiner for Edinburgh University’s Design Informatics course.


Research Interests

Although my team collaborates with many people in the Cambridge lab, I work primarily with Abigail Sellen and Richard Harper on the design of new user experiences for people’s everyday lives. With others in this interdisciplinary team we’re focussed on the reality of life. Life is complex, often frantic and nuanced, and traditional software and technology solutions don’t usually fit smoothly into it. We’re looking at ways in which technology can fit into the complexities of life, rather then insisting on the reverse.

Currently I’m very interested in thinking about the long-term impact of technology in our lives, and particularly about living with our digital things for 30 or 40 years, potentially passing them down through the generations, as we do with physical things. I call this topic Technology Heirlooms, and wrote extensively about it in my book, The Future of Looking Back.

In addition to project work I maintain a blog about technology trends. This primarily contains pointers and extracts from articles about new technologies and the ways in which people are using them. Some of this content, and some other bits more generally about design, end up on my twitter feed.

Recent Activity


My educational background is in design, first of products then software. I have an MA in Computer Related Design (now Interaction Design) from the Royal College of Art in London, and a BSc in Industrial Design from Brunel University. In May 2012 I was made and Honorary Professor in Design at the University of Dundee. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).

I’ve spent the last 10 years primarily working on products such as Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. This has taught me a great deal about the product development process from the point of view of design. Most recently I worked on new models for organizing and managing files within Microsoft Vista, after which I spent a couple of years doing longer term user experience research for the Windows team here in the UK.




  • Memento Mori: Technology Design for the End of Life” at CHI 2012. Massimi, M., Moncur, W., Odom, W., Banks, R., Kirk, D. Proceedings of the 30th of the international conference extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems, ACM (2012).
  • HCI at the End of Life” at CHI 2010. Massimi, M., Odom, W., Kirk, D., and Banks, R. HCI at the end of life: understanding death, dying, and the digital. Proceedings of the 28th of the international conference extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems, ACM (2010), 4477-4480.


Patents Granted:

  • 8.743,223: Linking Captured Images Using Short Range Communications
  • 8,762,892: Controlling An Integrated Messaging System Using Gestures
  • 7,712,039: Setting Control Using Edges of a User Interface. May 2010
  • 7,694,236: Stack Icons Representing Multiple Objects. April 2010
  • 7,657,846: System and Method for Displaying Stack Icons. February 2010
  • 7,568,167: Non-Persistent User Interface for Real-Time Communication. July 2009
  • 7,499,925: File System for Displaying Items of Different Types and from Different Physical Locations. March 2009
  • 7,496,583: Property Tree for Metadata Navigation and Assignment. February 2009
  • 7,409,644: File System Shell. August 2008
  • 7,383,303: Filtering a Collection of Items. June 2008
  • 7,240,292: Virtual Address Bar User Interface Control. July 2007
  • 7,181,463: System & Method for Managing Data Using Static Lists. Feb 2007.
  • 7,162,466: System & Method for Filtering and Organizing Items Based on Common Elements. Jan 2007.
  • 7,162,488: Systems, Methods, and User Interfaces for Storing, Searching, Navigating, and Retrieving Electronic Information. Jan 2007.
  • 7,149,729: System & Method for Filtering and Organizing Items Based on Common Elements. Dec 2006.
  • 6,990,637: Graphical User Interface for 3-Dimensional View of a Data Collection Based on an Attribute of the Data. Jan 2006.
  • 6,983,271: Answer Wizard Drop-Down Control. Jan 2006.
  • 6,948,135: Method & Systems of Providing Information to Computer Users. Sep 2005.
  • D507,576 Portion of a Display Screen. Jul 2005.
  • D501,483: Portion of a Display Screen. Feb 2005.
  • 6,579,324: Method for Indicating A Selected Region on a Computer Display While Allowing the User to See the Formatting of the Background and Content Items Within the Selected region. Jun 2003.

Academic Outreach:

  • Honorary Professor of Design at the University of Dundee.
  • Regular reviewer for a number of conferences, including CHI, DIS and TEI. PC member for DIS.
  • Industry advisor on ToTEM (dealing with the internet of things – see also the TalesOfThings site) and Bespoke (community based digital design).

Patents Pending:

  • System & Method for Dynamically Generating a Selectable Search Extension.
  • Linking Captured Images using Short Range Communication.
  • Device for Sharing Photographs in Social Settings.
  • Sketching and Searching Application for Idea Generation.
  • Controlling and Integrated Messaging System Using Gestures.
  • System and Method Utilizing Virtual Folders.
  • Archive for Physical and Digital Objects.
  • Resource Allocation Framework for Wireless/Wired Networks.
  • Information Exploration.
  • Social Networking Tool.
  • Digital Media Retrieval and Display.
  • Information Retrieval System User Interface.
  • Pointing Device with Independently Movable Portions.
  • Indirect Multi-Touch Interaction.



I maintain a personal/work blog.
I have a daughter who was born at the end of ’05 and who’s a doll.
I enjoy photography, particularly of architecture.
I enjoy travel with my wife.