Dr. Karon MacLean

Karon MacLean

DFP Role: Director, Management Committee
Professor, Computer Science

Karon MacLean is Professor in Computer Science at UBC, with degrees in Biology and Mechanical Engineering (BSc, Stanford; M.Sc. / Ph.D, MIT) and and time spent as a professional robotics engineer (Center for Engineering Design, University of Utah) and haptics / interaction researcher (Interval Research, Palo Alto). She has been at UBC since 2000. MacLean's research specializes in haptic (touch) interaction: cognitive, sensory and affective design for people interacting with the computation we touch, emote and move with and learn from, from robots to touchscreens and the situated environment. MacLean leads UBC’s Designing for People interdisciplinary research cluster and CREATE graduate training program (20 researchers spanning 8 departments and 4 faculties - dfp.ubc.ca), and is Special Advisor, Innovation and Knowledge Mobilization to UBC’s Faculty of Science.

Haptipedia: An Expert-Sourced Interactive Device Visualization for Haptic Designers
Haptipedia: An Expert-Sourced Interactive Device Visualization for Haptic Designers

Seifi, H., MacLean, K. E., Kuchenbecher, K. J., and Park, G., "Haptipedia: An Expert-Sourced Interactive Device Visualization for Haptic Designers," to appear in Haptics Symposium (HAPTICS), Works in Progress: IEEE, 2018.

Research Interests

Computers give us access to and control over data and machines, but they have also taken away the handles our bodies evolved to use. My research's central goal is to restore physicality to computer interaction, take it away from the desktop and embed it into the world at the best point of use. I use haptic (touch) force feedback as part of a multimodal HCI design toolbox, and apply design techniques to real problems and contexts to better understand its ideal uses and deployment. The applications I've found most exciting to date are those that require continuous and/or expressive control or navigation - for example, 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 (driving), or a system is being monitored with low attention (the pager of the future).

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