Martin Skelly


Art and Design Office, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design

Martin Skelly
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+44 (0)1382 385834


Martin lectures in Product Design and Creative Technologies at the University of Dundee, leading modules on the role of prototyping, the design of physical digital objects, physical computing, and internet-connected objects. His research focuses on creating speculative, robust, crafted research products that explore alternative futures for emerging technologies at the intersection of design, creative technologies, and human-computer interaction (HCI). His research has been exhibited internationally in Älmhult, Amsterdam, Bangalore, Berlin, Brussels, Dundee, Edinburgh, London, Mexico City, Oslo, San Francisco, and Vienna.

Before joining academia, Martin worked for a design week top 100 design agency in Business Development, Product Design, and Creative Technology roles. His work in industry was featured widely in the media and has been exhibited in the Design Museum, Natural History Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Selected clients include the BBC, NHS, Coca-Cola, Liverpool Football Club, and the Met Office.


My research explores questions around wellbeing, healthcare, privacy, user agency and ethics in our increasingly automated, algorithmically monitored lives. I create data driven products and design meaningful experiences that link our physical world with our digital world.

Decentralising Digital

Decentralising Digital was a 2-year research project funded by GCRF at the University of Dundee in partnership with Quicksand - a design research studio with offices across India, the National Institute of Design, India, and a range of community partners including the Buffalo Back farming collective, Black Baza Coffee collective and Janastu - an open source software non-profit. New narratives were co-created that explore how developments in emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, the voice-enabled Internet, machine learning, and artificial intelligence might be harnessed to support rural communities in India. Technology is already successfully contributing to socio-economic development in India but the narratives used to frame these successes are often narrow and frequently urban-centric. Our approach was one of Speculative Design: by telling stories about different futures, we encouraged people to think critically about the present and the decisions that would need to be taken to make such hopeful futures a reality. We worked with community partners to develop prototypes and probes, to help us establish these stories, and to develop visual concepts and comics that embody and explain them. Buffalo Back works with around 100 small-scale organic farmers in multiple villages on the outskirts of Bangalore, of which we engaged actively with around 20-30 farmers in our research interviews and workshops.


HappyHere is a participatory, immersive light installation, which uses colour and light to visualise thoughts and feelings. The technology turns visitors’ answers to seven simple questions into a narrative of light and colour, featured on a custom-built screen in the installation. After dark, Pig Rock Bothy becomes a beacon of coloured light, replaying all of the feelings recorded by it during the day and transmitting it out into the dark winter sky. HappyHere explores the links between art, technology, and well-being. It was a participatory, immersive light installation that explored the intersections of mental health, well-being, art, and technology. The experience was exhibited for 12 weeks between December 2018 and February 2019 and over 6500 visitors interacted with the exhibition. Commissioned by National Galleries of Scotland for Pig Rock Bothy.

Our Friends Electric

This project explored the design, prototyping, and exhibition of critical research products exploring, ethical, open, transparent voice interfaces for homes in the near future. This work was in collaboration with Superflux and was funded by the Mozilla Foundation. It’s estimated that over 100 million Amazon Alexa’s are in homes today and the social etiquette and expectations around interacting with online content through voice have evolved rapidly over the last three years. In this project, we designed and developed multiple iterations of original research products to enable discussion around the public perceptions of privacy and security with this new category of smart audio products. This work has been exhibited and presented at various national and international events in London, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Germany, USA, and India. Audiences have included designers, developers, students, engineers, and members of the public. This research through design project focused on the creation of interactive research objects that directly informed workshops and exhibitions throughout the design process with members of the public and professional design audiences providing insights for each iterative development of the work. Six research products were created in this process with the final three voice products going on to be exhibited in three locations internationally further evolving the discussion and awareness of an open, transparent, and safe voice-enabled internet.


View full research profile and publications


I have been Programme Director for Product Design BSc since August 2020. I teach the Product Design BSc & Product MSc courses, leading modules and developing the curriculum through industry-sponsored briefs with partners such as Microsoft Research, the Mozilla Foundation, and Chocolatia. My teaching has been recognised with a DUSA Student Led Teaching Award in 2021 in the ‘Best Distance Learning Tutor’ category and a DJCAD staff award for innovative interdisciplinary teaching in 2018.


I have listed several ways you can collaborate with me below, please contact me at the email address listed above to set up a call.  

Academic Research Collaborations

Are you an academic researcher looking to collaborate on a project or proposal? My list of research interests and publications can be found on my discovery profile at the link below.

Innovation Vouchers

Are you a small or medium enterprise with an idea to develop a new product, service or experience? You can apply for an innovation voucher funded by the Scottish Funding Council for a small grant to access my academic expertise and knowledge to support your business goals. More information on the innovation voucher scheme can be viewed on the University of Dundee’s innovate page,, please contact me to work together on your idea.

Industry Teaching Collaborations

The Product Design BSc course at the University of Dundee is always looking for new partners for industry briefs. For example, in 2023 our students worked on a packaging design brief for a local start-up chocolate company, and on a project with Microsoft Research exploring the influence of artificial intelligence technologies on our workplaces in the future.


Are you an external business, public sector body, government, or charity looking to buy specialist knowledge in design, connected objects, IoT, speculative design, design futures, or creative technology? Please contact me to discuss or read more information on University of Dundee consultancy opportunities.

Potential PhD Students

Are you a potential PhD student looking to discuss a PhD topic related to my research interests? You can read more about PhD opportunities on the University of Dundee’s postgraduate study page.

Sharing Industry Opportunities with Students

Are you looking to share placement, internship, or job opportunities with current students or recent design graduates? Please send me the details and I will happily share them through our Product Design programme networks.

External Examiner Opportunities

I’m available as an external examiner for HE courses within the UK and internationally. Please contact me by email if you are looking for a new external examiner with expertise across Product Design, Interaction Design, and Creative Technologies. Alternatively, if you are interested in being an External Examiner for one of our courses at the University of Dundee please get in touch.