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Cefn Hoile

Cefn Hoile

SSI fellow

Lancaster University


Cefn's work focuses on enabling non-programmers to imagine and create behaviours for digital objects. He facilitates physical computing workshops, emphasising open source hardware and software, and engages in bespoke prototyping consultancy for a wide variety of clients. He is currently completing a PhD at the University of Lancaster.


Cefn's PhD has the working title "The Participatory Design of Firmware". It is hosted at the radically post-disciplinary Highwire Doctoral Training Centre in Lancaster University. He proposes a three-year research programme workshopping with domain experts to specify the behaviour of prototype devices which have been created specifically for these experiments. Case study workshops will include inviting paraglider pilots to craft behaviours for a prototype GPS alti-vario flight instrument, and asking piano teachers, players and refuseniks to invent interactive games and exercises to drive a full-color piano key-lighting display.

As part of his exploratory work so far, Cefn has pioneered the adoption of a ultra-low-cost Arduino-compatible clone, freely-documented at, recently featured on Hackaday  and the basis for a programme of educational workshops within schools, after school code clubs and hack spaces in the North of England and increasingly all over the world.

To join Highwire, Cefn left his role as Principal Researcher after ten years prototyping technologies for BT's R&D labs, working between the Ipswich research campus and the MIT Media Lab in Boston. As a founder member of Ipswich's lively Curiosity Collective digital arts group, he is fascinated by the potential of a fluid boundary between science, art, technology and design. He now lives and works in the West End of Morecambe, running free technology access workshops and creating unusual interactive artworks and electronics kits in his spare time.

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