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Sean Follmer


Touching the Void: Enabling the Future of Haptic Interaction through Shape Displays


Towards a goal of more human-centered computing, I believe that interaction must be grounded in the physical world and leverage our innate abilities for spatial cognition and dexterous manipulation with our hands. By creating interfaces that allow for richer physical interaction, such as bimanual, whole hand haptic exploration, these systems can help people with different abilities (e.g., children, people with visual impairments, or even expert designers) better understand and interact with information. My work in Human Computer Interaction addresses a central challenge in the widespread adoption of such haptic user interfaces – how can we create physical interactive displays that update dynamically, and what are the interaction techniques and enabling technologies necessary to support such systems? I will focus the talk on recent enabling technologies (including electrostatic adhesion and perceptual illusions) to make these devices low cost and high resolution. Specifically, I will highlight the need to better integrate the development of these devices with a sensorimotor control perspective in order to improve perceived performance despite physical device limitations.


Sean Follmer is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science (by courtesy) at Stanford University. His Research in Human-Computer Interaction, Haptics, and Human Robot Interaction explores the design of novel tactile physical interfaces and robotic devices. Dr. Follmer directs the Stanford SHAPE Lab, co-directs the Center for Design Research, and is a faculty member of the Stanford HCI Group. Dr. Follmer received a PhD and a Masters from the MIT Media Lab in 2015 and 2011 (respectively) for his work in Human-Computer Interaction, and a BS in Engineering from Stanford University. His talk featured on was named one of the best science and tech TED talks of 2015 and has been viewed more than 1.5 million times.  He has received numerous awards for his research including an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, NSF CAREER Award, Google Faculty Research Award, and 15 Best Paper Awards and nominations from premier conferences in Human-Computer Interaction. 

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