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.