Karon MacLean
Professor, Dept. of Computer Science
University of British Columbia

Director, SPIN
The Sensory Perception and Interaction Research Group

E-mail: maclean@cs.ubc.ca
Office Phone: (604) 822 8169
Office Fax: (604) 822 4231
Office: ICICS/CS X641


Computers give us access to and control over data and machines, but they have also taken away the tangible handles our bodies evolved with. My research's larger goal is to restore physicality to computer interaction, and to reduce their load on our attention. In many cases, this means taking it away from the desktop and embedding it in the world at its most natural point of use. I use haptic (touch sense) force feedback as part of a multisensory HCI design toolbox, and apply design techniques to real problems and contexts to better understand physical feedback's ideal role. My favorite applications require continuous and/or expressive control or navigation - e.g. manipulating streaming media, drawing and sculpting, controlling musical instruments, affective displays, and computer-mediated interpersonal affective communication. Other promising areas are those where other senses are overutilized (like driving), or a system is being monitored with low attention (the pager of the future).

My background is a mix of mechatronics, robotics, physiology and sensory psychophysics; and my work moves through all of these fields. I was at the former Interval Research Corp. (Palo Alto, CA ) from 1996-early 2000, leading a team that put physical interfaces into consumer contexts and tested them there; that work got us to the point of understanding what is important.

For more about my research, visit the SPIN lab - the Sensory Perception and Interaction Research Group.