Human Computer Integration Lab

Computer Science Department, University of Chicago

We engineer interactive devices that integrate directly with the user’s body—we believe these devices are the natural succession to wearable interfaces.

One example of our human-computer integration is our exploration of interactive devices based on electrical muscle stimulation (EMS). These devices electrically actuate the user's body, enabling touch/forces in VR, or allowing everyday objects to teach their users how they should be operated—our wearables achieve this without the weight and bulkiness of conventional robotic exoskeletons. These devices gain their advantages, not by adding more technology to the body, but from borrowing parts of the user's body as input/output hardware, resulting in devices that are not only exceptionally small, but that also implement a novel interaction model, in which devices integrate directly with the user's body. Recently, we were able to generalize this concept to new modalities, including novel ways to interface with a user’s sense of temperature, smell and rich-touch sensations.

We think bodily-integrated interactive devices are beneficial as they enable new modes of reasoning with computers, going 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 (e.g., faster reaction time, realistic simulations in VR/AR, faster skill acquisition, etc.), it also requires tackling new challenges, such as improving the precision of muscle stimulation or the question of agency: do we feel in control when our body is integrated with an interface? We explore these questions, together with neuroscientists, by understanding how our brain encodes the feeling of agency to improve the design of this new type of integrated interfaces.

The Human Computer Integration research lab is led by Prof. Pedro Lopes at the Computer Science Department of the University of Chicago.


Pedro Lopes
Assist. Prof.

Jun Nishida

Postdoc Scholar

Jas Brooks

PhD student

Shan-Yuan Teng

PhD student

Jasmine Lu

PhD student

Alex Mazursky

PhD student

Romain Nith

PhD Student

Yudai Tanaka

PhD Student

Alan Shen

Predoctoral student

Yujie Tao

Predoctoral student

Jacqueline Chen

Summer intern (UIUC)

Mehreen Ali

Summer intern (UIC)

Andy Kong

Summer intern (CMU)

Arata Jingu

Summer intern (UTokyo)

Boris Lee

Summer intern (UZhejiang)

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.



Chemical Haptics: Rendering Haptic Sensations via Topical Stimulants

Jasmine Lu, Ziwei Liu, Jas Brooks, Pedro Lopes, In Proc. UIST’21 (full paper)

We propose a new class of haptic devices that provide haptic sensations by delivering liquid-stimulants to the user’s skin; we call this chemical haptics. Upon absorbing these stimulants, which contain safe and small doses of key active ingredients, receptors in the user’s skin are chemically triggered, rendering distinct haptic sensations. We identified five chemicals that can render lasting haptic sensations: tingling (sanshool), numbing (lidocaine), stinging (cinnamaldehyde), warming (capsaicin), and cooling (menthol). To enable the application of our novel approach in a variety of settings (such as VR), we engineered a self-contained wearable that can be worn anywhere on the user’s skin (e.g., face, arms, legs).

UIST'21 paper video UIST talk video hardware schematics

Altering Perceived Softness of Real Rigid Objects by Restricting Fingerpad Deformation

Yujie Tao, Shan-Yuan Teng, Pedro Lopes., In Proc. UIST’21 (full paper)
UIST best paper award
UIST best demo award (jury's choice)

We proposed a wearable haptic device that alters perceived softness of everyday objects without instrumenting the object itself. Simulteneously, our device achieves this softness illusion while leaving most of the user's fingerpad free, allowing users to feel the texture of the object they touch. We demonstrate the robustness of this haptic illusion alongside various interactive applications, such as making the same VR prop display different softness states or allowing a rigid 3D printed button to feel soft, like a real rubber button.

UIST'21 paper video UIST talk video hardware schematics

DextrEMS: Increasing Dexterity in Electrical Muscle Stimulation by Combining it with Brakes

Romain Nith, Shan-Yuan Teng, Pengyu Li, Yujie Tao, and Pedro Lopes, In Proc. UIST’21 (full paper)
UIST best demo award (people's choice)

DextrEMS is a haptic device designed to improve the dexterity of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS). It achieves this by combining EMS with a mechanical brake on all finger joints. These brakes allow us to solve two fundamental problems with current EMS devices: lack of independent actuation (i.e., when a target finger is actuated via EMS, it also often causes unwanted movements in other fingers); and unwanted oscillations (i.e., to stop a finger, EMS needs to continuously contract the opposing muscle). Using its brakes, dextrEMS achieves unprecedented dexterity, in both EMS finger flexion and extension, enabling applications not possible with existing EMS-based interactive devices, such as: actuating the user’s fingers to pose simple letters in sign language, precise VR force-feedback or even playing the guitar.

UIST'21 paper video UIST talk video hardware schematics

Whose touch is this?: Understanding the Agency Trade-off Between User-driven touch vs. Computer-driven Touch

Daisuke Tajima, Jun Nishida, Pedro Lopes, and Shunichi Kasahara. In Transactions of CHI’21 (full paper)

Force-feedback interfaces actuate the user's to touch involuntarily (using exoskeletons or electrical muscle stimulation); we refer to this as computer-driven touch. Unfortunately, forcing users to touch causes a loss of their sense of agency. While we found that delaying the timing of computer-driven touch preserves agency, they only considered the naive case when user-driven touch is aligned with computer-driven touch. We argue this is unlikely as it assumes we can perfectly predict user-touches. But, what about all the remainder situations: when the haptics forces the user into an outcome they did not intend or assists the user in an outcome they would not achieve alone? We unveil, via an experiment, what happens in these novel situations. From our findings, we synthesize a framework that enables researchers of digital-touch systems to trade-off between haptic-assistance vs. sense-of-agency.

TOCHI'21 paper (preprint)

A stretchable and strain-unperturbed pressure sensor for motion-interference-free tactile monitoring on skins

Qi Su, Q. Zou, Yang Li, Yuzhen Chen, Shan-Yuan. Teng, Jane Tunde Kelleher, Romain Nith, Ping Cheng, Nan Li, Wei Liu, Shilei Dai, Youdi Liu, Alex Mazursky, Jie Xu, Lihua Jin, Pedro Lopes, Sihong Wang, In Proc. Science Advances (to appear)

Existing types of stretchable pressure sensors have an inherent limitation of the interference of the stretching to the pressure sensing accuracy. We present a new design concept for a highly stretchable and highly sensitive pressure sensor that can provide unaltered sensing performance under stretching, which is realized through the creation of locally and biaxially stiffened micro-pyramids made from an ionic elastomer. This work was a collaboration and led by Sihong Wang and his team at the Molecular Engineering Department at the University of Chicago.

Increasing Electrical Muscle Stimulation’s Dexterity by means of Back of the Hand Actuation

Akifumi Takahashi, Jas Brooks, Hiroyuki Kajimoto, and Pedro Lopes, In Proc. CHI’21 (full paper)
CHI best paper award (top 1%)
CHI best demo award (people's choice)

We improved the dexterity of the finger flexion produced by interactive devices based on electrical muscle stimulation (EMS). The key to achieve it is that we discovered a new electrode layout in the back of the hand. Instead of the existing EMS electrode placement, which flexes the fingers via the flexor muscles in the forearm, we stimulate the interossei/lumbricals muscles in the palm. Our technique allows EMS to achieve greater dexterity around the metacarpophalangeal joints (MCP), which we demonstrate in a series of applications, such as playing individual piano notes, doing a a two-stroke drum roll or barred guitar frets. These examples were previously impossible with existing EMS electrode layouts.

CHI'21 paper video CHI talk video

Touch&Fold: A Foldable Haptic Actuator for Rendering Touch in Mixed Reality

Shan-Yuan Teng, Pengyu Li, Romain Nith, Joshua Fonseca, and Pedro Lopes, In Proc. CHI’21 (full paper)
CHI honorable mention for best paper award (top 5%)

We propose a nail-mounted foldable haptic device that provides tactile feedback to mixed reality (MR) environments by pressing against the user’s fingerpad when a user touches a virtual object. What is novel in our device is that it quickly tucks away when the user interacts with real-world objects. Its design allows it to fold back on top of the user’s nail when not in use, keeping the user’s fingerpad free to, for instance, manipulate handheld tools and other objects while in MR. To achieve this, we engineered a wireless and self-contained haptic device, which measures 24×24×41 mm and weighs 9.5 g. Furthermore, our foldable end-effector also features a linear resonant actuator, allowing it to render not only touch contacts (i.e., pressure) but also textures (i.e., vibrations).

CHI'21 paper video CHI talk video hardware schematics

MagnetIO: Passive yet Interactive Soft Haptic Patches Anywhere

Alex Mazursky, Shan-Yuan Teng, Romain Nith, and Pedro Lopes, In Proc. CHI’21 (full paper)

We propose a new type of haptic actuator, which we call MagnetIO, that is comprised of two parts: any number of soft interactive patches that can be applied anywhere and one battery-powered voice-coil worn on the user’s fingernail. When the fingernail-worn device contacts any of the interactive patches it detects its magnetic signature and makes the patch vibrate. To allow these otherwise passive patches to vibrate, we make them from silicone with regions doped with neodymium powder, resulting in soft and stretchable magnets. This novel decoupling of traditional vibration motors allows users to add interactive patches to their surroundings by attaching them to walls, objects or even other devices or appliances without instrumenting the object with electronics.

CHI'21 paper video CHI talk video hardware schematics

Stereo-Smell via Electrical Trigeminal Stimulation

Jas Brooks, Shan-Yuan Teng, Jingxuan Wen, Romain Nith, Jun Nishida, and Pedro Lopes, In Proc. CHI’21 (full paper)

We engineered a device that creates a stereo-smell experience, i.e., directional information about the location of an odor, by rendering the readings of external odor sensors as trigeminal sensations using electrical stimulation of the user’s nasal septum. The key is that the sensations from the trigeminal nerve, which arise from nerve-endings in the nose, are perceptually fused with those of the olfactory bulb (the brain region that senses smells). We use this sensation to then allow participants to track a virtual smell source in a room without any previous training.

CHI'21 paper video CHI talk video hardware schematics

Preserving Agency During Electrical Muscle Stimulation Training Speeds up Reaction Time Directly Afer Removing EMS

Shunichi Kasahara, Kazuma Takada, Jun Nishida, Kazuhisa Shibata, Shinsuke Shimojo and Pedro Lopes, In Proc. CHI’21 (full paper)

We found out that after training for reaction time tasks with electrical muscle stimulation (EMS), one's reaction time is acceleerated even after you remove the EMS device. What is remarkable is that the key to the optimal speedup is not applying EMS as soon as possible (traditional view on EMS stimulus timing) but to delay the EMS stimulus closer to the user's own reaction time, but still deliver the stimulus faster than humanly possible; this preserves some of user's sense of agency while still accelerating them to superhuman speeds (we call this Preemptive Action). This was done in cooperation with our colleagues from Sony CSL, RIKEN Center for Brain Science, and CalTech. Read more at our project's page.

CHI'21 paper video CHI talk video source code

User Authentication via Electrical Muscle Stimulation

Yuxin Chen, Zhuolin Yang, Ruben Abbou, Pedro Lopes, Ben Y. Zhao and Haitao Zheng, In Proc. CHI'21 (full paper)

We propose a novel modality for active biometric authentication: electrical muscle stimulation (EMS). To explore this, we engineered ElectricAuth, a wearable that stimulates the user’s forearm muscles with a sequence of electrical impulses (i.e., EMS challenge) and measures the user’s involuntary finger movements (i.e., response to the challenge). ElectricAuth leverages EMS’s intersubject variability, where the same electrical stimulation results in different movements in different users because everybody’s physiology is unique (e.g., differences in bone and muscular structure, skin resistance and composition, etc.). As such, ElectricAuth allows users to login without memorizing passwords or PINs. This is work was a colaboration led by Heather Zheng (who runs the SAND Lab) at UChicago.

CHI'21 paper video CHI talk video code

Elevate: A Walkable Pin-Array for Large Shape-Changing Terrains

Seungwoo Je, Hyunseung Lim, Kongpyung Moon, Shan-Yuan Teng, Jas Brooks, Pedro Lopes, and Andrea Bianchi, In Proc. CHI'21 (full paper)

Existing shape-changing floors are limited by their tabletop scale or the coarse resolution of the terrains they can display due to the limited number of actuators and low vertical resolution. To tackle this, we engineered Elevate, a dynamic and walkable pin-array floor on which users can experience not only large variations in shapes but also the details of the underlying terrain. Our system achieves this by packing 1200 pins arranged on a 1.80 x 0.60m platform, in which each pin can be actuated to one of ten height levels (resolution: 15mm/level). This work was a collaboration and was led by Andrea Bianchi, who runs the MAKinteract group at KAIST.

CHI'21 paper video CHI talk video

HandMorph: a Passive Exoskeleton that Miniaturizes Grasp

Jun Nishida, Soichiro Matsuda, Hiroshi Matsui, Shan-Yuan Teng, Ziwei Liu, Kenji Suzuki, Pedro Lopes, In Proc. UIST’20 (full paper)
UIST best paper award

We engineered HandMorph, an exoskeleton that approximates the experience of having a smaller grasping range. It uses mechanical links to transmit motion from the wearer’s fingers to a smaller hand with five anatomically correct fingers. The result is that HandMorph miniaturizes a wearer’s grasping range while transmitting haptic feedback. Unlike other size-illusions based on virtual reality, HandMorph achieves this in the user’s real environment, preserving the user’s physical and social contexts. As such, our device can be integrated into the user’s workflow, e.g., to allow product designers to momentarily change their grasping range into that of a child while evaluating a toy prototype.

UIST'20 paper video UIST talk video 3D files (print your exoskeleton)

Trigeminal-based Temperature Illusions

Jas Brooks, Steven Nagels, Pedro Lopes, In Proc. CHI’20 (full paper) CHI best paper award (top 1%)

We explore a temperature illusion that uses low-powered electronics and enables the miniaturization of simple warm and cool sensations. Our illusion relies on the properties of certain scents, such as the coolness of mint or hotness of peppers. These odors trigger not only the olfactory bulb, but also the nose’s trigeminal nerve, which has receptors that respond to both temperature and chemicals. To exploit this, we engineered a wearable device that emits up to three custom-made “thermal” scents directly to the user’s nose. Breathing in these scents causes the user to feel warmer or cooler.

CHI'20 paper video CHI talk video hardware schematics

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 CHI honorable mention for best paper award (top 5%)

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.

CHI'20 paper video CHI talk video code/hardware

Next Steps in Human Computer Integration

Floyd Mueller* ,Pedro Lopes*, Paul Strohmeier, Wendy Ju, Caitlyn Seim, Martin Weigel, Suranga Nanayakkara, Marianna Obrist, Zhuying Li, Joseph Delfa, Jun Nishida, Elizabeth Gerber, Dag Svanaes, Jonathan Grudin, Stefan Greuter, Kai Kunze, Thomas Erickson, Steven Greenspan, Masahiko Inami, Joe Marshall, Harald Reiterer, Katrin Wolf, Jochen Meyer, Thecla Schiphorst, Dakuo Wang, Pattie Maes. In Proc. CHI’20 (full paper) * authors contributted equally

Human-computer integration (HInt) is an emerging paradigm in which computational and human systems are closely interwoven; with rapid technological advancements and growing implications, it is critical to identify an agenda for future research in HInt.

CHI'20 paper CHI talk video

Dream engineering: Simulating worlds through sensory stimulation

Michelle Carr, Adam Haar*, Judith Amores*, Pedro Lopes*, Guillermo Bernal, Tomás Vega, Oscar Rosello, Abhinandan Jain, Pattie Maes. In Proc. Consciousness and Cognition (Vol. 83, 2020) (journal paper) * authors contributted equally

We draw a parallel between recent VR haptic/sensory devices to further stimulate more senses for virtual interactions and the work of sleep/dream researchers, who are exploring how senses are intregrated and influence the sleeping mind. We survey recent developments in HCI technologies and analyze which might provide a useful hardware platform to manipulate dream content by sensory manipulation, i.e., to engineer dreams. This work was led by Michelle Carr (University of Rochester) and in collaboration with the Fluid Interfaces group (MIT Media Lab).

Consciousness and Cognition'20 paper

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.

UIST'19 paper video

Action-dependent processing of touch in the human parietal operculum

Jakub Limanowski, Pedro Lopes, Janis Keck, Patrick Baudisch, Karl Friston, and Felix Blankenburg. In Cerebral Cortex (journal)

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.

Cerebral Cortex paper

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.

CHI'19 paper video SIGGRAPH'19 etech CHI'19 talk (slides) CHI talk video

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.

CHI'19 paper CHI'19 talk (slides)

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.

video CHI'18 paper code

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.

video CHI'17 paper

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.

video UIST'16 paper code

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.

video UIST'15 paper talk video

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++.

video CHI'15 paper talk video code

Proprioceptive Interaction

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.

video CHI'15 paper talk video

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.

video CHI'13 paper talk video

The publications above are core to our lab's mission. If you are interested more of Pedro's publications in other topics, see here.

Teaching by HCI lab (active classes)

1. Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction (CMSC 20300; Fall quarter)

Synopsis: An introduction to the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), with an emphasis in understanding, designing and programming user-facing software and hardware systems. This class covers the core concepts of HCI: affordances, mental models, selection techniques (pointing, touch, menus, text entry, widgets, etc), conducting user studies (psychophysics, basic statistics, etc), rapid prototyping (3D printing, etc), and the fundamentals of 3D interfaces (optics for VR, AR, etc). We compliment the lectures with weekly programming assignments and two larger projects, in which we build/program/test user-facing interactive systems. See here for class website. (This class is required for our Undergraduate Specialization in HCI, see here for details.)

2. Inventing, Engineering and Understanding Interactive Devices (CMSC 23220; Spring quarter)

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 microcontrollers, (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. (This class is part of our Undergraduate Specialization in HCI, see here for details.)

3. Engineering Interactive Electronics onto Printed Circuit Boards (CMSC 23230 and CMSC 33230; Spring quarter)

Synopsis: In this class we will engineer electronics onto Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs). We will focus on designing and laying out the circuit and PCB for our own custom-made I/O devices, such as wearable or haptic devices. In order for you to be successful in engineering a functional PCB we will: (1) review digital circuits and three microcontrollers (ATMEGA, NRF, SAMD), (2) use KICAD to build circuit schematics; (3) learn how to wire analog/digital sensors or actuators to our microcontroller, including SPI and I2C protocols; (4) use KICAD to build PCB schematics; (5) actually manufacture our designs; (6) receive in our hands our PCBs from factory; (7) finally, learn how to debug our custom-made PCBs. See here for class website. (This class is part of our Undergraduate Specialization in HCI, see here for details.)

4. Emerging Interface Technologies (CMSC 33240 and CMSC 23240; Winter quarter)

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. (This class is part of our Undergraduate Specialization in HCI, see here for details.)

While we do our best to increase class' capacity, our HCI classes fill up quickly. If that happens and you still want to register, please use the CS Waiting list.

Co-designed classes and past courses

4. Creative Machines (PHYS 21400; CMSC 21400; ASTR 31400, PSMS 31400, CHEM 21400, ASTR 21400)

Note: This class is taught by Stephan Meyer (Astrophysics), Scott Wakely (Physics), Erik Shirokoff (Astrophysics). While this class is not taught by Pedro Lopes, it was co-created by Pedro together with Scott Wakely (Physics), Stephan Meyer (Astrophysics), Aaron Dinner (Chemistry), Benjamin Stillwell and Zack Siegel. We highly recommend students interested in HCI or in working with us to take this class. Synopsis: Techniques for building creative machines is essential for a range of fields from the physical sciences to the arts. In this hands-on course, you will engineer and build functional devices, e.g., mechanical design and machining, CAD, rapid prototyping, and circuitry; no previous experience is expected. Open to undergraduates in all majors, Master's or Ph.D. students.

5. Topics in Human Computer Interaction (CMSC 33231; winter quarter; graduate seminar; currently inactive)

Synopsis: In this class, we examine review developments in HCI 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). This is a graduate seminar with emphasis on paper reading, discussing and paper writing. (This class is paused, we recommend you take the more hands-on Emergent Technologies instead.)


Steven Nagels

Visiting PhD student
Winter 2019
Now: UHasselt

Akifumi Takahashi

Visiting PhD student
Winter/Spring 2020
Now: UElectro-Com. Tokyo

Zoe Liu


Dasha Shifrina

Ugrad CS
Winter 2021
Now: UChicago

Arjun Voruganti

Ugrad CS
Winter 2021
Now: UChicago

Joyce Passananti

Ugrad CS
Winter 2021
Now: UChicago

Antony Awad

Ugrad MolecularEng

Pengyu Li

Summer 2019
Now: Tianjin University

Jingxuan Wen

Predoctoral student

Romain Nith

Visiting Ugrad
Summer 2019
Now: McGill

Svitlana Midianko

CDAC Intern
Summer 2020
Now: Minerva Schools

Yujie Tao

CDAC Intern
Summer 2020
Now: UChicago

Aaron Tang

MsC Practicum
Spring Summer 2019
Now: Sandia National Labs

Zhehao Li

Visiting Ugrad
Summer 2019

Lydia Filipe

Now: Amazon

Marco Kaisth

Now: UWaseda

Ted Kim

CDAC Summer 2019
Now: UChicago

Hilina Mekuria

Ugrad CS
Fall 2019
Now: UChicago

Nitesh Nath

MsC practicum
Winter 2019
Now: DRW Trading

Simeon Markind

MsC practicum
Spring 2019
Now: UChicago Booth

Jake Grayson

Spring 2019

Daniel Steinberg

Spring 2019
Now: UChicago

April Wang

Spring 2020
Now: UChicago

Michael LeMay

Summer 19
Now: Facebook

Eva Tuecke

High schooler
CDAC Summer 2019

Arresh Amleshi

Research Assistant

Medha Goyal

Ugrad Physics

Jacob Zane

Ugrad CS
Now: CUBoulder

Abdul Rahman Mustapha

Ugrad Neurosciencei
Now: UChicago

Ashby deButts

Ugrad Math
Spring 2020
Now: UChicago

Jersey Fonseca

Ugrad CS
Spring 2020
Now: UChicago

Laya Gollapudi

Ugrad CS
Winter 2020
Now: Apple


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, do the following:

  • 1. Send us an email with your portfolio and CV.
  • 2. Your portfolio (which preferably is a website) must show documentation of the projects you are most proud (video documentation). 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)

P.s.: for UChicago students that want to learn more about HCI, meet HCI faculty and students, consider joining us for the "HCI Club".

Supported by

Our lab is supported by the following sponsor organizations:


2021 NSF CAREER Award;
Jas Brooks and Jasmine
Lu supported by GRFP;
our work with SANDLab.


Touch & Fold
is supported by Sony


Jun Nishida
is supported by JSPS


Supports our projects with
Prof. Sihong Wang (PME) and
Prof. Dr. Andrey Rzhetsky (BSD)

Big Ideas Generator

Supports our research
on wearable haptics

Contact us
  • John Crerar Library, 292
  • Computer Science Department
  • 5730 S. Ellis Avenue
  • Chicago, IL 60637, USA.

See here for a complete list of press articles about our work.