Computer Science Department, University of Chicago
Our research is focused understanding how to integrate computer interfaces with the human body—we believe this is the interface paradigm that supersedes wearable computing. We explore this by engineering interactive systems that intentionally borrow parts of the user’s body for input and output.
We think these types of interactive devices are beneficial because they afford new emotional and physical modes of reasoning with computers, which goes beyond just symbolic thinking (reasoning by typing and reading language on a screen). While this physical integration between human and computer is beneficial in many ways, it also requires tackling a series of new philosophical challenges, such as the question of agency: how do I feel when my body is integrated with an interface, do I feel in control? We explore these questions, together with neuroscientists, by measuring and improving how our brain encodes the feeling of agency under this new kind of integrated interfaces.
Our lab is a welcoming environment that does not discriminate. We are a LGBTQ+ ally lab. If you are emailing lab members, do not assume pronoums, just ask before.
Wearable Microphone Jamming
Yuxin Chen*, Huiying Li∗, Shan-Yuan Teng∗, Steven Nagels, Pedro Lopes, Ben Y. Zhao and Heather Zheng, In Proc. CHI’20 (full paper) * authors contributted equally
We engineered a wearable microphone jammer that is capable of disabling microphones in its user’s surroundings, including hidden microphones. Our device is based on a recent exploit that leverages the fact that when exposed to ultrasonic noise, commodity microphones will leak the noise into the audible range. Our jammer is more efficient than stationary jammers. This is work was a colaboration led by Heather Zheng (who runs the SAND Lab) at UChicago.
Aero-plane: a Handheld Force-Feedback Device that Renders Weight Motion Illusion
Seungwoo Je, Myung Jin Kim, Woojin Lee, Byungjoo Lee, Xing-Dong Yang, Pedro Lopes, Andrea Bianchi. In Proc. UIST’19 (full paper)
We engineered Aero-plane, a force-feedback handheld controller based on two miniature jet-propellers that can render shifting weights of up to 14 N within 0.3 seconds. Unlike other ungrounded haptic devices, our prototype realistically simulates weight changes over 2D surfaces. This work was a collaboration and was led by Andrea Bianchi, who runs the MAKinteract group at KAIST.
Tactile input generated by one’s own agency is generally attenuated. Conversely, externally caused tactile input is enhanced; e.g., during haptic exploration. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to understand how the brain accomplishes this weighting. Our results suggest an agency-dependent somatosensory processing in the parietal operculum. Read more at our project's page.
Preemptive Action: Accelerating Human Reaction using Electrical Muscle Stimulation Without Compromising Agency
Shunichi Kasahara, Jun Nishida and Pedro Lopes. In Proc. CHI’19, Paper 643 (full paper) and demonstration at SIGGRAPH'19 eTech.
Grand Prize, awarded by Laval Virtual in partnership with SIGGRAPH'19 eTech.
We found out that it is possible to optimize the timing of haptic systems to accelerate human reaction time without fully compromising the user' sense of agency. This work was done in cooperation with Shunichi Kasahara from Sony CSL. Read more at our project's page.
Detecting Visuo-Haptic Mismatches in Virtual Reality using the Prediction Error Negativity of Event-Related Brain Potentials
Lukas Gehrke, Sezen Akman, Pedro Lopes, Albert Chen, ..., Klaus, Gramann. In Proc. CHI’19, Paper 427. (full paper)
We detect visuo-haptic mismatches in VR by analyzing the user's event-related potentials (ERP). In our EEG study, participants touched VR objects and received either no haptics, vibration, or vibration and EMS. We found that the negativity component (prediction error) was more pronounced in unrealistic VR situations, indicating visuo-haptic mismatches. Read more at our project's page.
Adding Force Feedback to Mixed Reality Experiences and Games using Electrical Muscle Stimulation
Pedro Lopes, Sijing You, Alexandra Ion, and Patrick Baudisch. In Proc. CHI’18. (full paper)
Summary: We present a mobile system that enhances mixed reality experiences, displayed on a Microsoft HoloLens, with force feedback by means of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS). The benefit of our approach is that it adds physical forces while keeping the users’ hands free to interact unencumbered—not only with virtual objects, but also with physical objects, such as props and appliances that are an integral part of both virtual and real worlds.
Providing Haptics to Walls and Other Heavy Objects in Virtual Reality by Means of Electrical Muscle Stimulation
Pedro Lopes, Sijing You, Alexandra Ion, and Patrick Baudisch. In Proc. CHI’17 (full paper) and demonstration at SIGGRAPH'17 studios
We explored how to add haptics to walls and other heavy objects in virtual reality. Our contribution is that we prevent the user’s hands from penetrating virtual objects by means of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS). As the shown user lifts a virtual cube, our system lets the user feel the weight and resistance of the cube. The heavier the cube and the harder the user presses the cube, the stronger a counterforce the system generates.
Muscle-plotter: An Interactive System based on Electrical Muscle Stimulation that Produces Spatial Output
Pedro Lopes, Doga Yueksel, François Guimbretière, and Patrick Baudisch. In Proc. UIST’16 (full paper).
We explore how to create more expressive EMS-based systems. Muscle-plotter achieves this by persisting EMS output, allowing the system to build up a larger whole. More specifically, it spreads out the 1D signal produced by EMS over a 2D surface by steering the user’s wrist. Rather than repeatedly updating a single value, this renders many values into curves.
Impacto: Simulating Physical Impact by Combining Tactile Stimulation with Electrical Muscle Stimulation
Pedro Lopes, Alexandra Ion, and Patrick Baudisch. In Proc. UIST’15 (full paper). UIST best demo nomination
We present impacto, a device designed to render the haptic sensation of hitting and being hit in virtual reality. The key idea that allows the small and light impacto device to simulate a strong hit is that it decomposes the stimulus: it renders the tactile aspect of being hit by tapping the skin using a solenoid; it adds impulse to the hit by thrusting the user’s arm backwards using electrical muscle stimulation. The device is self-contained, wireless, and small enough for wearable use.
Affordance++: Allowing Objects to Communicate Dynamic Use
Pedro Lopes, Patrik Jonell, and Patrick Baudisch. In Proc. CHI’15 (full paper). CHI best paper award (top 1%)
We propose extending the affordance of objects by allowing them to communicate dynamic use, such as (1) motion (e.g., spray can shakes when touched), (2) multi-step processes (e.g., spray can sprays only after shaking), and (3) behaviors that change over time (e.g., empty spray can does not allow spraying anymore). Rather than enhancing objects directly, however, we implement this concept by enhancing the user with electrical muscle stimulation. We call this affordance++.
Pedro Lopes, Alexandra Ion, Willi Mueller, Daniel Hoffmann, Patrik Jonell, and Patrick Baudisch. In Proc. CHI’15 (full paper). CHI best talk award
We propose a new way of eyes-free interaction for wearables. It is based on the user’s proprioceptive sense, i.e., users feel the pose of their own body. We have implemented a wearable device, Pose-IO, that offers input and output based on proprioception. Users communicate with Pose-IO through the pose of their wrists. Users enter information by performing an input gesture by flexing their wrist, which the device senses using an accelerometer. Users receive output from Pose-IO by finding their wrist posed in an output gesture, which Pose-IO actuates using electrical muscle stimulation.
Muscle-propelled force feedback: bringing force feedback to mobile devices
Pedro Lopes and Patrick Baudisch. In Proc. CHI’13 (short paper). IEEE World Haptics, People’s Choice Nomination for Best Demo
Force feedback devices resist miniaturization, because they require physical motors and mechanics. We propose mobile force feedback by eliminating motors and instead actuating the user’s muscles using electrical stimulation. Without the motors, we obtain substantially smaller and more energy-efficient devices. Our prototype fits on the back of a mobile phone. It actuates users’ forearm muscles via four electrodes, which causes users’ muscles to contract involuntarily, so that they tilt the device sideways. As users resist this motion using their other arm, they perceive force feedback.
Synopsis: An introduction to the field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), with a particular emphasis in understanding and designing user-facing software and hardware systems. This class covers the core concepts of HCI: affordance and mental models, input techniques (cursors, touch, text entry, voice, etc.), output techniques (visual menus and widgets, sound, haptics), conducting user studies, and so forth. It also includes a project in which students design, build and study a user-facing interactive system. See here for class website.
Synopsis: In this class we build I/O devices, typically wearable or haptic devices. These are user-facing hardware devices engineered to enable new ways to interact with computers. In order for you to be successful in building your own I/O device we will: (1) study and program 8 bit microntrollers, (2) explore different analog and digital sensors and actuators, (3) write control loops and filters, (4) explore stretchable and fabric based electronics, (5) learn how to approach invention, and (6) apply I/O devices to novel contexts such as Virtual Reality. See here for class website.
Synopsis: In this class, we examine emergent technologies that might impact the future generations of computing interfaces, these include: physiological I/O (e.g., brain and muscle computer interfaces), tangible computing (giving shape and form to interfaces), wearable computing (I/O devices closer to the user's body), rendering new realities (e.g., virtual and augmented reality) and haptics (giving computers the ability to generate touch and forces). (Note that This class superseeds our former "HCI Topics" graduate seminar, this is a hands-on class with more projects and assignments, not a typical graduate seminar). See here for class website.
25th January 2020
Pedro speaks at RIT's HCI colloquium (hosted by Roshan Peiris) and visits Michelle Carr at Roschester University.
9th January 2020
Chris Hill (Boulder) visits the lab!
16th December 2019
Haijun Xia (UCSD) visits the lab (hosted by Ravi)!
12th December 2019
Michael Polsky visits the lab!
9th December 2019
Nicolai Marquardt (UCL) visits the lab!
12th November 2019
29th October 2019
Alexandra Ion (ETH) visits the lab!
28th October 2019
David Lindlbauer (ETH) visits the lab!
25th October 2019
Our collaborator Rei Konno (KEIO sfc) came to visit!
25th October 2019
Physical Sciences Division council comes to the lab for demos and a talk!
24th October 2019
Cedric Honnet visiting our lab and giving a talk!
23rd October 2019
Wow! Shan-Yuan Teng also got the Honorable mention for best talk at UIST! Double award on his paper, yay!
We are always looking for exceptional students at the intersection of Human Computer Interaction, Electrical Engineering, Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering.
If you are considering applying for our lab for any position:
1. Send us an email with your portfolio and CV.
2. Your portfolio (which preferably should be a website) must show documentation of the projects you are most proud (video documentation is ideal). We are especially looking for technical projects that involve: circuitry, signal processing, wearables or other interactive devices.
2. Your CV should state also which level of expertise you have with the areas that are crucial for our lab: have you built your own circuits, do you write control loops, do you do more hardware than software, etc.
4. Our lab is most suited for folks with some experience in HCI, EE, materials or ME.
5. Read our research interests carefully, if you are unsure about the fit, send a quick email first before applying.
6. If you are applying for an internship you mush have substantial previous experience in our areas of work.
(7. For UChicago undergraduates it is advised to first take our HCI engineering class prior to applying)
Our lab is supported by the following sponsor organizations: