Horizon CDT Research Highlights

Research Highlights

Digital Identity at the movies: Personalising the cinema-going experience

  Tatiana Styliari (2014 cohort)   www.linkedin.com/in/tatianastyliari


A multidisciplinary PhD among the faculties of Film & Culture, Computer Science and Human Factors which explores the definition of digital identity, maps the contemporary cinema-going experience by taking into consideration the use of digital platforms and data transactions between cinema & audiences, and provides a technological intervention to enhance the experience and add value to the construction of the users’ digital identity. All the above entail the continuous and active engagement with the industrial partners.

#Research questions

  1. How can digital data enhance the cinema-going experience?
  2. What does digital identity mean within this context and how it is understood?
  3. What is the value of data attached with both cinema and audiences?

#Research gap Most work on personalisation and media has been associated with newer, digital and portable technologies & TV, rather than more traditional forms like cinema. There’s little work on cinema audiences and the social dynamics of cinema-going; enabling them discover, explore and express their digital identities. Cinema-going has been discussed in a historical/ industrial context but hasn't been much researched in terms of identifying its position in the digital era. Additionally, there is growing research in exploring interactive cinema mostly led by HCI academics or artists. However, cinema, as in the experience of going to watch a film at a movie theatre is a poorly discussed subject, especially when it comes to the contribution of digital data. What is also scarcely considered is cinema-going as an overall experience of following a path that begins before reaching the venue, while at the cinema and after walking away from it, especially in a digital everyday routine. The combination of different disciplines could result in an innovative result: it could add value to the modification of the experience and the way digital data are used in this particular sector.

#Methodology A user-centred, participatory approach to combine audiences' and stakeholders' perspectives.

Focus groups:

-To understand contemporary moviegoing experience; -to explore data sharing; -to Investigate moviegoers’ perception of digital identity.

Expert interviews:

-To gain the exhibition’s perspective on all the above.

Participatory Design

-To identify cinema audiences’ ideal cinema related technology.

Diaries & supplementary interview

-To map the users' journey; -to understand how cinemagoers interact with technology & digital data.

Iterative process of prototype designing:

Mapping the digital and physical engagement of different filmgoers -> Identify different personas -> Prototype for each main category of persona -> Test it -> Refine it -> Test it again.



Expand the literature regarding digital identity and understant its position in the sector of entertainment and specifically in cinema. Cover the literature gap of multidisciplinary research between Film Studies and HCI with regards to digital data use in cinema-going. Provide work that can be used as a creative input to guide, influence and inspire questioning around the viability of the same model to be applied in other forms of entertainment such as opera, theatre etc.


Provide an innovative way for a venue to use audience data to provide a personalised experience and increase trust in their brand.

This author is supported by the Horizon Centre for Doctoral Training at the University of Nottingham (RCUK Grant No. EP/L015463/1) and Digital Catapult, Broadway Cinema.