Contact Info
JCL358 (Lab: JCL380)

Ken Nakagaki is an interaction designer and HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) researcher from Japan. He joined the University of Chicago’s Computer Science Department as an Assistant Professor and founded the Actuated Experience Lab, or AxLab, in 2022.

His research has focused on inventing and designing novel user interface technologies that seamlessly combine dynamic digital information or computational aids into daily physical tools and materials. He is passionate about creating novel physical embodied experiences via these interfaces through curiosity-driven tangible prototyping processes. At AxLab, he pursues research in actuated and shape-changing user interface technologies to design the future of user experiences.

Before joining UChicago, he received his Ph.D. from the MIT Media Lab, where Prof. Hiroshi Ishii was his advisor. There he focused his research on Actuated Tangible User Interfaces. Ken has presented at top HCI conferences (ACM CHI, UIST, TEI) and led demonstrations of his work at international exhibitions and museums, including the Ars Electronica Festival and Laval Virtual. He has received numerous awards, including the MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 Japan & Asia Pacific, the Japan Media Arts Festival, and the James Dyson Award.


Focus Areas: Human-Computer Interaction, User Interfaces, Robotics

‘Actuated Tangible User Interfaces’

My HCI (human-computer interaction) research focuses on designing and developing Actuated Tangible User Interfaces (A-TUIs). A-TUI is an emerging type of user interface that can physically actuate (shape-change and move) for novel user interaction.

While modern computer interfaces (laptops, smartphones/watches, IoT, VR/AR, etc.) have remained physically static and visually dominant for information display and interactivity, A-TUIs can physically convey digital information and dynamically adapt to bodily interaction.

My research in A-TUI merges physical materials with computational and robotic technologies for creating a seamless tangible interaction experience.


Human Computer Interaction

Exploring the interfaces between people and technologies

Labs & Groups

AxLab – Actuated Experience Lab

Ken Nakagaki
Designing shape-changing and reconfigurable technologies that invite people to actively engage and interact with a computationally-enhanced physical world.

Awards & Honors

25th Japan media arts festival
1st place, student category, Fast company's innovation by design awards
Finalist, experimental category, Fast company's innovation by design awards
Student notable in interaction category, Core 77 design award
Innovators under 35 Asia pacific MIT technology review
Innovators under 35 Japan MIT technology review
Finalist, experimental category, Innovation by design awards
Finalist, student category, Innovation by design awards
Honorable mention, general excellence category, Innovation by design awards
Honorable mention award, ACM TEI
Honorable mention award, experimental category, Innovation by design awards
Golden mouse award (best video showcase), ACM CHI
Finalist, YouFab global creative award
20th Japan media arts festival
Honorable mention award, student category, Innovation by design awards
Golden A' design award, interaction design category
Best paper honorable mention award, ACM CHI
Golden mouse award, ACM CHI
3rd place nationally, James dyson award
Top 20 internationally, James dyson award
IPSJ Yamashita SIG research award
16th Japan media arts festival
The 19th international collegiate virtual reality contest, grand prix, DCExpo/ConTEX award
Laval virtual award
Popular vote award

News & Events

UChicago CS News

University of Chicago Computer Science Researchers To Present Ten Papers at CHI 2024

May 06, 2024
UChicago CS News

FabRobotics: The Fusion of 3D Printing and Mobile Robots

Feb 27, 2024
UChicago CS News

UChicago CS Researchers Shine at CHI 2023 with 12 Papers and Multiple Awards

Apr 19, 2023
UChicago CS News

New Prototypes AeroRigUI and ThrowIO Take Spatial Interaction to New Heights – Literally

Apr 18, 2023
UChicago CS News

Computer Science Displays Catch Attention at MSI’s Annual Robot Block Party

Apr 07, 2023
UChicago CS News

High School Students in College Prep Program Visit UChicago CS

Aug 23, 2022
UChicago CS News

UChicago CS Labs Join Museum of Science & Industry For Robot Block Party

Apr 20, 2022
In the News

Assistant Professor Ken Nakagaki Named Innovator Under 35 by Tech Review

Oct 29, 2021
UChicago CS News

Trio of New UChicago CS Faculty Join for 2021-22 Academic Year

Sep 16, 2021
Past Event

Ken Nakagaki (MIT) – Designing Actuated Tangible UIs that blend the Joy of Physical Interaction, Robotic Actuation, and Digital Computation

Apr 08, 2021
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