Computers are now ubiquitous. However, computers and digital content have remained largely separate from the physical world – users explicitly interact with computers through small screens and input devices, and the “virtual world” of digital content has had very little overlap with the immediate, physical world. My work aims to help computing escape the confines of screens and devices, and spill information- and computationally-rich digital content out into the familiar world around us. I approach this problem from many directions: from low-level algorithmic work of providing ad hoc touch sensing on everyday surfaces, to high-level questions surrounding the interaction design between physical and virtual realms. I have built many embodiments of these mixed-reality experiences, including a computational lightbulb capable of projecting interactive content onto everyday surfaces, as well as a head-mounted augmented reality system that integrates touch interaction on the environment.
Robert Xiao is a Ph.D. candidate at Carnegie Mellon University in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute. He develops novel sensing and interactive technologies that enable richer and more powerful interactions with our computers, combining his love of computer science, mathematics and electronics. He has won Best Paper Awards at UIST 2016, ICMI 2015, and GI 2011, and is an NSERC Scholar and Qualcomm Innovation Fellow. His research has been covered by the New York Times, NBC News, Wired, Discovery Channel, TechCrunch, Gizmodo and many other outlets. Robert is also active in computer security competitions, winning DEFCON CTF the past two years with the CMU PPP team. Robert received his Bachelors from the University of Waterloo, with double honors in Computer Science and Combinatorics & Optimization.