"Making with a Social Purpose"

Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:00 PM

Location: LTS Auditorium, 8080 Greenmead Drive

Jon Froehlich
Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science and UMIACS

The goal of my research is to develop interactive tools and techniques that address pressing global challenges—so-called “wicked” problems—in environmental sustainability, accessibility, and education.

In this talk, I will describe two major threads of research in accessibility and STEM learning, both of which sense physical phenomena, leverage emerging computational techniques to interpret this data, and explore new interactive tools uniquely enabled by these approaches. The first thread examines how to make the physical world more accessible for people with disabilities. For example, Project Sidewalk combines crowdsourcing, computer vision and machine learning to semi-automatically identify street-level accessibility problems using online map imagery.

The second thread explores how wearables and e-textiles can be designed to promote and engage children in life-relevant, personally meaningful STEM learning experiences. In the MakerWear project, for example, we designed a novel construction toolkit for wearables that enables young children (ages 5-10) to design, build and use their own interactive e-textiles. For both threads, I will discuss example projects, describe key contributions, and highlight future work.

Jon Froehlich is an assistant professor of computer science at UMD, a Sloan Fellow, and an NSF CAREER awardee.

He directs the Makeability Lab, whose mission it is to design, build and study interactive tools and techniques that address pressing societal problems related to health, education, accessibility and more.

Froehlich has published over 50 peer-reviewed publications. Ten have been honored with awards, including best papers at ACM CHI and ASSETS.

His doctoral research, which explored new sensing and visualization systems for environmental sustainability, was patented, licensed and commercialized by Belkin, Inc. and honored with the University of Washington Graduate School Distinguished Dissertation Award.

At UMD, Froehlich is a member of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory (HCIL), UMIACS, and founder of the HCIL Hackerspace.