Past Event! Note: this event has already taken place.

Designing New Physical Interactions

December 15, 2020 at 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM

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Sowmya Somanath, Assistant Professor, University of Victoria


We live in a time where we are increasingly spending more hours of our day in the virtual world facilitated by digital interfaces such as smartphone apps, video conferencing tools and social media. However fundamentally, we occupy and interact with each other in a physical world, and much of what we do is facilitated by physical artefacts. We love creating physical things, experiencing things found in nature, riding or driving vehicles, using our bodies to express ourselves and interact with a variety of gadgets in our daily life. In my research, I am passionate about exploring such experiences and designing new physical interactions. My students and I create alternative physical and tangible ways for people to engage in the tasks they wish to accomplish as well as empower them to leverage such physical interactions with technologies to create new artefacts and experiences. In this talk, I will briefly discuss lessons learned from a variety of projects focused on studying and designing physical interactions ranging from the use of actuated tabletop tangibles and interactive physical workbenches by petroleum engineers to people’s interaction with autonomous vehicles and more recently tools that support creating physical-digital objects.


Sowmya Somanath is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Victoria. At UVic, she leads the Creative Experiences Lab, which broadly focuses on topics in the area of Human-Computer Interaction. Currently, the group is working on several projects that involve studying and designing tools that can help people create digital and physical artefacts using technology (such as electronics, fabrication devices, AR, VR). The group also researches other topics related to designing new physical interactions such as with autonomous vehicles and wearable cyborg limbs. Before joining UVic, Sowmya was an Assistant Professor at Ontario College of Art and Design University. She completed her PhD from the University of Calgary in 2017, and before moving to Canada, lived, studied and worked in Bengaluru, India.

Presentation will be online, registration here: