Karon MacLean (University of British Columbia) speaks on communicating through touch Photo

Karon MacLean (University of British Columbia) speaks on communicating through touch

November 13, 2008, 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.


Designing haptic (tactile and force feedback) signals to enrich technology-mediated interactions requires a clear understanding of the task, the user and the intricate affordances of touch. This is especially true when the synthesized feedback does not mimic real world forces and textures, but conveys meaning in new ways to support physical communication - between people, and with systems and machines. The larger goal of my group's research is to provide the foundations for haptic interactions that are simple, usable and intuitive and that fit within the context of the user's life.
Through examples of projects and studies, I will develop the concepts of perceptual design, ubiquitous haptics and physical interaction design. Application areas include attention-conserving signaling and monitoring, mobile information sharing, shared control, expressive communication and anxiety disorder therapy, with an emphasis on the importance of process and appropriate tools and representations.


Karon MacLean is Associate Professor in Computer Science at the University of British Columbia, Canada (Courtesy appointment in Mechanical Engineering). She has a B.Sc. in Biology and Mechanical Engineering from Stanford (1986) and a M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT (1996), with professional robotics engineering (Center for Engineering Design, Univ. of Utah) in between. She worked as a research scientist at Interval Research, Palo Alto, coming to UBC in 2000. Her research in ubiquitous haptic and multimodal interfaces brings together robotics, interaction and affect design and psychology with the larger goal of restoring physicality to embedded computation, and has been recently supported by Nokia, Immersion, Nissan, Spark Robotics and others. She uses touch feedback as part of a multisensory HCI toolbox in the context of real design problems like mobile devices and steering controls to leverage new design techniques and define her studies of multimodal perception and attention. Peter Wall Early Career Scholar (2001); Izzak Walton Killam Memorial Faculty Research Fellowship (2007); Charles A. McDowell Award, 2008. Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Haptics, founding member of several other editorial and advisory boards; co-chair of the 2010 IEEE Haptics Symposium.