Sean Follmer: 2016 HCI + Design Workshop


Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Location: McCaw Hall, Arrillaga Alumni Center

"Making Interaction Physical - From Physically Embodied Design Tools to Ubiquitous Robotics"



Interaction design is at a crossroads. As we move towards more convergence in our devices, our devices have become increasingly reliant on touch screen based interaction, neglecting their physical form and spatial relevance. Lessons from industrial design and cognitive science suggest another direction - interfaces that are physically embodied.

My talk will explore two questions: 1) How can we bring interaction into the physical world for tasks like design and fabrication? 2) How can the physical form of devices physically adapt to fit the context of their use?

I believe that shape-changing and deformable interfaces can address the lack of physical affordances in today's interactive products and devices. My work maps out a conceptual space of Dynamic Affordances, describes new interactions with shape changing interfaces motivated by the careful study of users today and expert designers working with physical materials, and begins to evaluate how these new interfaces and devices can help users. In order to prototype these interactions I develop technologies for programming material properties (stiffness, shape, color, etc.) and embedded shape sensing, taking inspiration from fields like Soft Robotics, Material Science, and flexible electronics.


Sean Follmer is a human-computer interaction researcher and designer. He is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University, where he teaches the design of smart and connected devices and leads research at the intersection between human-computer interaction (HCI) and robotics. Follmer received a Ph.D. and a Masters degree from the MIT Media Lab in 2015 and 2011, respectively, and a BS in Engineering from Stanford University. He has worked at Nokia Research and Adobe Research on projects exploring the frontiers of HCI. Follmer has received numerous awards for his research and design work, including best paper awards and nominations from premier academic conferences in HCI (ACM UIST and CHI), Fast Company Innovation By Design Awards, a Red Dot Design Award and a Laval Virtual Award.