Pedro Lopes is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science at the University of Chicago. Pedro focuses on integrating interfaces with the human body—exploring the interface paradigm that supersedes wearables. These include: muscle stimulation wearables that allow users to manipulate tools they have never seen before or that accelerate reaction time, or a device that leverages the smell to create an illusion of temperature.
Pedro’s work has received several academic awards, such as five CHI/UIST Best Papers, Sloan Fellowship and NSF CAREER, and captured the interest of the public (e.g., New York Times, exhibited at Ars Electronica, etc.; more: https://lab.plopes.org).
Focus Areas: Human Computer Interaction, Virtual + Augmented Reality, Wearable Computing
Lopes leads a research group that asks the following questions: (1) what if interfaces would share part of our body? (2) How can we engineer future devices to connect more personally and directly to our body? Pedro has materialized some of these ideas by creating interactive systems 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.
Selected YouTube videos: VR Walls, Muscle Plotter, Affordance++
Courses taught by Pedro: