Faculty Candidate Seminar

Building Sustainable Computational Materials

Nivedita AroraPostdocGeorgia Institute of Technology
3725 Beyster BuildingMap

Zoom link for remote participants, passcode:   714666

Abstract:  We are rapidly moving towards a world with a trillion internet-connected things, from smartwatches to industrial sensors, yet we have somehow kept this intelligence separate from the everyday objects and surfaces we interact with and use. Today’s Internet of Things (IoT) devices are bulky, expensive, and battery-powered, making them environmentally harmful and heavily reliant on regular maintenance and replacement. To achieve ubiquitous computational things, four system design parameters must be focused on: form factor, maintenance-free operation, low cost, and environmental sustainability.

With this vision in mind, I build sustainable computational materials by rethinking the computing stack from the bottom up, going beyond off-the-shelf device components, and co-designing across novel materials, fabrication methods, low-power circuits, and industrial design.  To illustrate this, I will provide an example of an easy-to-retrofit, inexpensive, battery-free sticky note that can wirelessly sense acoustic vibrations and provide feedback. This work will encompass three projects with increasing capability. SATURN is a self-powered flexible acoustic sensor based on a triboelectric generator made from inexpensive everyday materials like paper and plastic. MARS demonstrates simultaneous wireless sensing of speech,  direction, identity, and touch by multiple interactive stickers in an indoor environment in nano-power. VENUS adds feedback to the stickers in the form of a low-voltage display powered by the human body or ambient room light. I discuss the potential application of sustainable stickers in interaction sensing, mobile health, and infrastructure monitoring. I will conclude by laying a path forward for systems, toolkits, and applications that help progress the ambitious research agenda of sustainable computational materials throughout their full lifecycle – manufacturing, operation, and reuse or disposal.

Bio:  Nivedita Arora is a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She received her Ph.D. in Computer Science, advised by Gregory Abowd and Thad Starner at GT’s Ubicomp Lab. She is passionate about designing sustainability-first computing systems and exploring their applications. She works at the intersection of novel materials, low-power embedded systems, human-computer interaction, and design. Her research has been published in top-tier ACM Systems and HCI venues such as IMWUT, UIST, and  MobiSys. It has won several recognitions, including research highlights in Communications of the ACM and SIGMOBILE’s GetMobile Magazine, two best papers (ACM IMWUT, ACM SenSys-ENSsys), and two best posters awards (MobiSys, UIST). In addition, she was the recipient of the ACM UbiComp Gaetano Borriello Outstanding Student Award (2021), Georgia Tech’s GVU Foley Scholar (2021), Outstanding GRA award in GT’s College of Computing (2022), Rising Stars in EECS (2021), and GT’s Faces of Inclusive Excellence (2015). You can find out more about her at http://niveditaarora.com/


Cindy Estell

Student Host

Snehal Prabhudesai and Yasha Iravantchi

Faculty Host

Alanson Sample