Robin N. Brewer

Research done at:

pawprint to represent UMBC mascot, the golden retriever UMBC
saucer to represent Carnegie Mellon Usable Privacy and Security Lab CMU
turtle shell to represent University of Maryland mascot, the terrapin UMD
an N to represent Northwestern University NU
thumbs up liking icon to represent Facebook FB
the Cortano blue circle icon to represent Microsoft Research MSR
an M to represent University of McihiganUMSI
research at Michigan

Accessible Communities and Technologies for Aging and Disability

At Michigan, I am researching ways to developing meaningful and accessibile technologies that help aging populations and people with vision impairments in their daily lives.

research at Northwestern

Communication Technologies for Older Adults

Under the advisement Dr. Anne Marie Piper, I am researching how to increase access to online communication and enabling self-expression for people with limited computer access. I am doing so through the lens of voice-user interfaces for older adults with vision impairments, but also investigate how to make online communities like crowdwork more accessible and meaningful to people with disabilities.

[Morris, M.R., Bigham, J.P., Brewer, R., Bragg, J., Kulkarni, A., Li, J., Savage, S. “Subcontracting Microwork.” CHI 2017.] (pdf)

[Brewer, R. N., Cartwright, M., Karp, A., Pardo, B., Piper, A.M. "An Approach to Audio-Only Editing for Visually Impaired Seniors." ASSETS Poster 2016.]

[Piper, A. M., Cornejo, R., Brewer, R. N. "Understanding the Challenges and Opportunities of Smart Mobile Devices among the Oldest Old." IJMHCI.] (pdf)

[Brewer, R. N., Piper, A. M. ""Tell It Like It Really Is": A Case of Online Content Creation and Sharing Among Older Adult Bloggers." CHI 2016.] (pdf)

[Brewer, R. N., Morris, M. R., Piper, A. M. ""Why would anybody do this?": Understanding Older Adults’ Motivations and Challenges in Crowd Work." CHI 2016.] (pdf)

[Brewer, R. N., "Connecting Older Adults through Voice-Based Interfaces." CSCW 2016 Doctoral Colloquium.] (pdf)

[Cornejo, R., Brewer, R. N., Edasis, C., Piper, A. M. “Vulnerability, Sharing, and Privacy: Analyzing Art Therapy for Older Adults with Dementia.” CSCW 2016.] (pdf)

[Brewer, R. N., Cornejo, R., Schwaba, T., Gergle, D., Piper, A. M. “Exploring Traditional Phones as an E-Mail Interface for Older Adults.” TACCESS 2016.] (pdf, slides as presented at ASSETS 2016)

[Brewer, R. N., Morris, M. R., Piper, A. M. "Exploring Cognitive Benefits as an Alternative Motivation for Engaging Older Adults in Crowdwork." HCOMP WiP 2015.] (pdf)

[Brewer, R.N., Jones, J. "Pinteresce: Exploring Reminiscence as an Incentive to Digital Reciprocity for Older Adults." CSCW 2014.] (pdf)

[Brewer, R.N., Gellner, R., Piper, A.M. "Portrait Pigeon: An Interactive Photo Messaging Wall for Seniors." UbiComp 2014.] (pdf)

research at Microsoft Research

Exploring Intelligent Remembering Tools

Conducting formative research through elicitation interviews, diary studies and surveys, and usability testing for an intelligent agent

[Brewer, R.N., Morris, M.R., Lindley, S.E. "How to Remember What to Remember: Exploring Possibilities for Digital Reminder Systems." UbiComp 2017.]

[Rong, X., Fourney, A., Brewer, R.N., Morris, M.R., Bennett, P.N. “Managing Uncertainty in Time Expressions for Virtual Assistants.” CHI 2017.] (pdf)

research at Facebook

Understanding Global Success of Facebook

Deployed surveys, conducted eye-tracking studies and interviews to understand challenges of Facebook use on a desktop/laptop computer globally and for older adults.

research at UMBC

Social Ideation

These projects focuses on how to motivate older adults to contribute to social media through the use of intergenerational collaboration on social ideation sites.

[Brewer, R. "Conducting Semi-Private Interviews in the Home" In Workshop on Methods for Studying Technology in the Home. CHI 2013.] led to Psychnology article

[Brewer, R. in Workshop on Rapidly Iterating Crowd Ideas – CrowdCamp. CSCW 2013.] led to CrowdResearch blog post

more research at UMBC


With Dr. Lisa Anthony and Dr. Quincy Brown, I led efforts to explore how children ages 5-7 use touchscreen mobile devices. Key contributions from this project include how to conduct empirical studies with younger age groups, emphasizing the use of gamification in the study protocol.

[Brewer, R., Anthony, L., Brown, Q., Irwin, G., Nias, J., Tate, B. “Using Gamification to Motivate Children to Complete Empirical Studies in Lab Environments.” IDC 2013.]

[Anthony, L., Brown, Q., Tate, B., Nias, J., Brewer, R., and Irwin, G. Designing Smarter Touch-Based Interfaces for Educational Contexts. Journal of Personal and Ubiquitous Computing: Special Issue on Educational Interfaces, Software, and Technology 2013.]

[Brown, Q., Anthony, L., Nias, J., Tate, B., Brewer, R., and Irwin, G. 2013. Towards Designing Adaptive Touch-Based Interfaces. CHI 2013 Workshop. MOBACC’2013, Paris France, 28 Apr 2013, 4pp. ]

[Brown, Q., Anthony, L., Brewer, R., Irwin, G., Nias, J., and Tate, B. 2013. Challenges of Replicating Empirical Studies with Children in HCI. CHI 2013 Workshop. RepliCHI’2013, Paris, France, 27-28 Apr 2013, p54-58.]

more research at UMBC


Working with Michele Williams, we created and piloted a study focusing on a new instance of VizWiz (a crowdsourcing solution for users with vision impairments). The new instance centered around fashion and the choosing of appropriate and matching clothing choices for blind users.

[Burton, M.A., Brady, E., Brewer, R., Neylan, C., Bigham, J.P., Hurst, A. Crowdsourcing Subjective Fashion Advice Using VizWiz: Challenges and Opprtunities. ASSETS 2012.]

research at Maryland


Giigle was a Google-funded study to explore search behaviors of children and adolescents online. Findings included the emergence of the role, social searcher, with teenagers.

[Foss, E., Hutchinson, H., Druin, A., Brewer, R., Lo, P., Sanchez, L., and Golub, E. Children's search roles at home: Implications for designers, researchers, educators, and parents. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology JASIST 2012.]

research at Carnegie Mellon


"Frouping", otherwise known as Friend Grouping, was a project I contributed towards at Carnegie Mellon's Usable Privacy and Security lab in 2010 under the advising of Dr. Lorrie Cranor. I explored 4 different grouping methods to assist with fine-grained privacy control on Facebook.

[Kelley, P.G., Brewer, R., Mayer, Y., Cranor, L.F., and Sadeh,N. An investigation into facebook friend grouping. INTERACT 2011.]

more research at Maryland


Kidsteam is an intergenerational and interdisciplinary design team comprised of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and children ages 7-11. As an adult design leader, I used participatory design to create artifacts for kids, designed by kids. Aside from an independent study project on designing interactive restaurant menus for kids, projects included designing mobile apps, devices and tools for organizations such as Nickelodeon, The White House, and the National Park Service.

[Brown, Q., Bonsignore, E., Hatley, L., Druin A., Walsh, G., Foss, B., Brewer, R., Hammer, J., Golub, E. "Clear Panels: A Technique to Design Mobile Application Interactivity" DIS 2010.]

[Walsh G., Druin A., Guha ML., Bonsignore, E., Foss, E., Yip JC., Golub, E., Clegg, T., Brown, Q., Brewer, R., Joshi A., Brown, R. "DisCo: a co-design online tool for asynchronous distributed child and adult design partners." IDC 2012.]