Human-Computer Interaction Institute, School of Design
I am an interaction designer and researcher with a joint appointment as an Associate Professor at the Human-Computer Interaction and at the School of Design.
I have four main research areas:
Designing for the Self: I have been investigating how to operationalize theories on material possession attachment and theories on material practices and material in the design of interactive products and services.
These theories describe how meaning and attachment grow from repeated use of different artifacts. One example I really like is how parents develop an attachment to specific books they read to their children. If you visit parents 20 years after their children have left home, many still possess and cherish these books.
My work looks at how to make things that help people become the person they desire to be; how a product can help a person feel they are moving towards their idealized self in a specific role. Examples of things I have made with my students and collaborators include the reverse alarm clock that keeps young children from waking their parents; a smart activity bag that allows parents to pass responsibility of preparing for an activity to a child; and the family time flow, a system that learns the routines of busy families and then uses this knowledge to support these families. Recently I have been taking this work in a new direction, looking at how teens construct value with their virtual possessions; things like their music, photos, text messages, video game avatars, and social network profiles.
Research through Design: This work investigates how the design process can be recast as a method of inquiry. Design has an ability to holistically embrace “wicked problems;” an approach much different than the reductionist practices found in engineering and scientific inquiry. My work in this area has been to formalize research through design so that contributions made following this approach will be accepted in the HCI resea