Title: CIRCULAR INTERACTIVE MATERIAL: Making Ubiquitous Computing More Scalable and Sustainable

Date: Friday, June 14, 2024

Time: 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM EST

Location(in-person): GVU cafe

Location(remote): https://us06web.zoom.us/j/9838488406?pwd=T3laZmNmazVDTXpLUmtDcU0yVzljQT09


Tingyu Cheng

PhD Candidate in Human-centered Computing

School of Interactive Computing

Georgia Institute of Technology



Dr. Gregory D. Abowd (co-advisor), College of Engineering, Northeastern University, USA and School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA 

Dr. Hyunjoo Oh (co-advisor), School of Interactive Computing & School of Industrial Design, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA 

Dr. Thad Starner, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA

Dr. Josiah Hester, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA

Dr. Carmel Majidi, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, USA

Dr. Sean Follmer, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, USA




Weiser predicted that the third generation of computing would result in individuals interacting with many computing devices, ultimately allowing them to “weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.” However, how to achieve this seamlessness and what associated interactions should be developed are still under investigation. On the other hand, to achieve a fully immersive intelligent environment, we might produce trillions of smart devices, but their current configuration (e.g., plastic housing, PCB board) will inevitably increase environmental burden. In my research, I work on creating computational materials with different encoded properties (e.g., conductivity, transparency, water-solubility, self-assembly, etc.) that can be seamlessly integrated into our living environment to enrich different modalities of information communication. Meanwhile, the material intelligence will affect devices' usefulness from a sustainability perspective (e.g., device lifetime).


During my PhD, I presented five main works to scope the future pervasiveness of IoT devices while paying attention to their entire device life cycle. They emphasize different aspects that are crucial to constructing the circular interactive material embedded environment by balancing the tension between scalability and sustainability. Silver Tape is a simple fabrication technique leveraging inkjet printing circuits to transfer silver traces onto everyday surfaces without any post-treatment. This method allows users to quickly fabricate versatile sensors by leveraging the intrinsic material property (e.g., heat-resistive), and meanwhile, the transferred sensors can be repaired when damaged (IMWUT20). Duco is the second project that negates the need for any human intervention by leveraging a hanging robotic system that automatically sketches large-scale circuitry. We have explored not only how to incorporate these computational abilities into our living structures but also created erasable ink that allows users to erase the circuitry and embed the surface with new capabilities (IMWUT21). PITAS is a thin-sheet robotic material composed of a reversible phase transition actuating layer and a heating/sensing layer to create shape-changing devices that can locally or remotely convey physical information such as shape, color, texture, and temperature changes. A distinctive renewal process can be accomplished by immersing the material actuator in ethanol, allowing the devices a new life (CHI22). Next, Functional Destruction aims to further promote sustainability by designing devices that disintegrate once they have fulfilled their purpose (CHI23). Most recently, I have further extended the disintegration of transient electronics for making fully recyclable electronics to further enhance electronics’ sustainability (UIST24, under review). I also discuss several key takeaways and future directions in terms of designing, using, and disposing of these novel sustainable edge devices and how they can be linked to bigger infrastructures (HotCarbon 23).