Faculty Candidate Seminar

Circular Interactive Material: making ubiquitous computing more scalable and sustainable

Tingyu ChengPh.D. CandidateGeorgia Institute of Technology
3725 Beyster BuildingMap

Zoom link for remote attendees: password 123123



Abstract: The 21st-century computer should “weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it”, envisioned by Mark Weiser, which propelled the development of today’s computational devices that seamlessly blend into our surroundings. This vision, however, is overshadowed by a growing concern: the environmental impact of this rapid proliferation of devices. In our pursuit of the ubiquitous computing idea, the prevailing design paradigm centers on creating devices with optimal functionality and longevity, packing the most functionalities into the smallest foam factor, often overlooking many environmental considerations, such as devices reusability, ecological/ lifecycle cost, embodied carbon etc. This disposition leads to a linear lifecycle pattern where devices are produced from non-renewable resources, utilized, and ultimately discarded, culminating in electronic waste accumulation.

My research focuses on adding ‘circular interactive material’ to our built environment, which have the ability to sense the surroundings, exchange information, harvest ambient energy, produce shape outputs, and adapt to environmental changes. Simultaneously, they are designed with the capability to self-destruct or be recyclable for new device lives. Picture one day our room walls are filled with erasable & modifiable capacitive sensing matrix that can track users’ touch/gestures, as well as estimate body pose or even indoor location; a face mask crafted from biodegradable silk fibroin can serve as both a protective barrier and user’s physiological patterns monitor; and a vivid artificial flower made of completely recyclable shape changing materials can deliver physical  interactions.

Bio: Tingyu Cheng is a final-year PhD candidate at Georgia Tech, majoring in Human-Centered Computing and supervised by Professor Gregory Abowd and Hyunjoo Oh under the College of Computing. His main research interests and background lie in ubiquitous computing and human-computer interaction fields, aiming to design, fabricate, and analyze novel-material-based sensors and actuators and their interactions with humans. Specifically, he aims to incorporate ‘sustainable physical intelligence’ into our built environment. This involves not only enabling our environment to sense different surrounding activities, actuate to indicate/deliver information, or even communicate, but also paying attention to how this built-in materials intelligence can facilitate self-destruction or further recycling, mirroring the processes found in nature. He has published in major HCI venues (CHI, IMWUT, UIST) and scientific journals (Science Advances, npj Flexible Electronics, Smart Materials and Structures) and has received paper awards (CHI 2023 honorable mention) and design awards (Core77 honorable mention/winner, Fast Company Design Award honorable mention/finalist, Ars Electronics honorable mention).


Cindy Estell

Student Host

Yasha Iravantchi

Faculty Host

Anhong Guo