Pedro Lopes is an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago, where he leads the Human Computer Integration lab, which focuses on the the research question: what if interfaces would share part of our body?
Pedro’s team materializes these ideas by creating interactive systems that intentionally borrow parts of the user’s body for input and output; allowing computers to be more directly interwoven in our bodily senses and actuators.
One specific flavor of such devices that Pedro has extensively explored is devices that borrow the user’s muscles by means of electrical muscle stimulation. These devices use part of the wearer’s body for output, i.e., the computer can output by actuating the user’s muscles with electrical impulses, causing it to move involuntarily. The wearer can sense the computer’s activity on their own body by means of their sense of proprioception. Pedro’s wearable systems have shown to (1) increase realism in VR, (2) provide a novel way to access information through proprioception, and (3) serve as a platform to experience and question the boundaries of our sense of agency.
Pedro’s work is published at top-tier conferences (ACM CHI & UIST) and demonstrated at venues such as SIGGRAPH and IEEE Haptics. Pedro has received the CHI Best Paper award for his work on Affordance++, Best Talk Awards and a Best Paper nomination. As part of his research, Pedro has exhibited at Ars Electronica 2017, Science Gallery Dublin and World Economic Forum in San Francisco. His work also captured the interest of media, such as MIT Technology Review, NBC, Discovery Channel, NewScientist or Wired.
Previously, Pedro was a PhD student with Prof. Patrick Baudisch at the Hasso Plattner Institute, Germany.
Some more about myself:
1. I believe that science & art together are key to humanity’s future: Hence, my research inspires in neuroscience and art, while at its core is rooted in electrical engineering and computer science. My objective is to probe, provoke and understand the integration between our body and interactive devices.
2. My previous research interests also included: (1) allowing ideas to flow faster, such as through interactive sketching, modeling & interactive fabrication; (2) acoustic interfaces, such a smart(er) touchscreen that is able to differentiate touch contacts, such as nails, knuckles, feet or even everyday objects. My master thesis was a large-scale multitouch table for DJing. My PhD thesis was interactive systems based on electrical muscle stimulation.
3. As an musician I play turntables as a full-fledged instrument, which means they can be bowed, percussed, scratched, subverted & hacked. I make my own needles and records using circuit-bending and acrylic cutting. I engage in collaboration with visual artists, performance & improvisors. My music has its own place here.
Email me at pedrolopes -a.t.- uchicago.edu