photo of Sowmya Somanath
Sowmya Somanath Principal Investigator, Faculty

I am a Computer Scientist specializing in Human-Computer Interaction. I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Design at OCAD University and lead the Interactive Futures Lab. At OCAD University I am jointly appointed with the Industrial Design and Inclusive Design programs.

I completed my MSc and Ph.D. in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Calgary. I was supervised by Drs. Ehud Sharlin and Mario Costa Sousa, and was part of the uTouch Group, illustrares research group, and the Interactions Lab

My students and I use and create novel interfaces for physical technologies such as digital fabrication machines, autonomous vehicles, wearables, and robots. I am intrigued by how these technologies with physical affordances can impact us, and hope to create meaningful user experiences that are motivated by people's real-world needs and problems.

Jad Rabbaa Jad Rabbaa Grad Student

Jad Rabbaa is a multidisciplinary digital designer, multimedia strategist, and editor. His interdisciplinary background is the combination of his passion for communication aesthetics and his interest in digital technology.

Jad’s exposure to different fields keeps expanding, spanning over three different continents, two majors, and five languages. Over the past decade, he has worked for a wide array of clients around the world, ranging from TV channels to SMEs and even the public sector. Lately, he has been involved with the United Nations working as a UX designer and strategist at the peacekeeping mission UNIFIL. His experience covers interactive design through web and mobile, incorporating illustrations, animations, and video to serve a seamless user experience and communication.

Jad’s research at the Masters of Digital Futures at OCAD focuses on the use of the state-of-the-art mobile-based and HMD-based Augmented Reality as a futuristic wayfinding tool within indoor complex spaces and how the User Interface and User Experience will develop within the realm of MR and AR.

Picture of Mandeep Mangat Mandeep Mangat Student

As an emerging interdisciplinary designer, Mandy Mangat is currently completing her Bachelor's degree in Industrial Design at OCAD University.  Mandy’s diverse background pre-dates her time in industrial design and includes past studies and work experience in fashion design, and wearable technology, which provides her with a unique perspective that she leverages throughout her current work.
 
Her thesis focuses on the evolving dynamic between technology and society.  Through this investigation, she forecasts the need for ethical consideration within the design process in order to future-proof the impact of emerging technologies.  By strategically applying an ethical framework on the future of social robotics, her thesis contrasts desirable and dystopic futures. 
 
In the lab, Mandy’s work seeks to anticipate the affective potential of non-verbal communication within human-robotic interactions through building and assessing speculative scenarios.

Picture of Omid Ettehadi Omid Ettehadi Grad Student

I am pursuing a Master of Design Degree in Digital Futures at OCAD University. I have a BASc in Electrical Engineering from the University of Toronto. Prior to joining OCAD University, I spent most of my time developing software or taking pictures and videos. As a creator, I was always fascinated by the online creator communities, and how they have reshaped our creative process. Currently, I am looking into the creative process of different online makers' communities, in search of opportunities where their creative process could be improved.

Picture of Nahin Shah Nahin Shah Grad Student

I am pursuing a Master of Design in Inclusive Design at OCAD University. Prior to attending OCAD, I received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Design from the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). I am interested in sustainability, maker culture, and educational empowerment. I am currently working on a project that explores ways to create “do it yourself kits” to help students build simple projects to generate electrical energy.

Picture of Erman Erman Akyol Grad Student

I am a graduate student in the Inclusive Design program at OCADU, Toronto. I received my Bachelors from the Industrial Design Department at Anadolu University in Turkey.  I worked as a research assistant at Anadolu University after graduation and was a full-time lecturer and teaching at the department of industrial design before coming to Canada. During my studies, I got the European Union and Japan’s Mombukagusho Scholarships for my international studies.  I was an exchange student at the industrial design department at HAWK in Germany; a researcher at Korea Design Research Institute, Seoul National University, and Chiba University in Japan. I have participated in workshops, conferences, projects in various international platforms. Since a while, I have been a volunteer in Design Exchange as well. My previous research was on ergonomics, assistive technologies, and universal design. My current research interests are HCI, inclusive design and design for health. I can be contacted at 3174249@student.ocadu.ca

photo of Tara Campbell Tara Campbell Research Assistant

I am pursuing a Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCAD University. I have a B.Sc. in Neuroscience from McGill University, and spent several years working as an open-source software developer. I am interested in sustainability, postanthropocentric design, and what cognitive science can teach us about being better designers. In the lab, I am working on a project examining the ethical use of machines, where machine behaviour is guided by principles co-created by the user and the machine. This project also looks at how human interactions with machines change when they imagine things from the machine's perspective.

 

Karthik Mahadevan Karthik Mahadevan Grad Student

I am a MSc student in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Calgary, supervised by Dr. Ehud Sharlin (University of Calgary) and Dr. Sowmya Somanath (OCAD University). I hold a BSc in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alberta. My research interests are in human-robot interaction and autonomous systems.

Uttara Ghodke Uttara Ghodke Grad Student

I am a 2nd-year student pursuing my Master's degree in Inclusive design at OCAD University. My specialty prior to attending OCAD University was Industrial Product Design, from the Maharashtra Institute of Technology University (MIT U). Currently, I am building on those skills to develop research in the area of non-visual and cross-sensory data analytics tools that employ a combination of tactile, aural, and visual cues through a single object or integrated system to communicate geographic information for blind, low-vision, and sighted audiences alike. My research is supervised by Dr. Peter Coppin and  Dr. Sowmya Somanath.  

photo of Noor Hammad Noor Hammad Research Assistant

I'm a fourth year Computer Science student at the University of Calgary. I am currently conducting research in the area of cyborg immersion with Dr. Ehud Sharlin, Dr. Sowmya Somanath and Dr. Patrick Finn. With my research, I wish to develop my skills, both as a developer and academic and seek knowledge in unique areas of study in my field. 

Picture of Jessica Stark Jessica Stark Research Assistant

I’m a MSc student in Computer Science at the University of Calgary, where I am part of the uTouch (utouch.cpsc.ucalgary.ca) and RICELab (ricelab.cpsc.ucalgary.ca) research groups. As an intern in the Interactive Futures Lab, I am working on a collaborative project between IFL and Autodesk Research, creating representations of making processes to help novice makers learn from the workflows of experts. My research at the University of Calgary focuses on augmented reality interfaces to explore time travel concepts, and I have also previously done research on personal space intrusion in human-robot interaction. I have a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Calgary and a diploma in Journalism from SAIT Polytechnic.

Picture of Eric Forest Eric Forest Grad Student

Eric has been interested in design and making since childhood. Preferring to work as an individual, a younger Eric was rarely found in classrooms and more likely in a scrapyard sourcing vintage car parts, salvaging electronics, or hunting vintage furniture for restoration. Today he is a little more entrenched in academia, but his desire to get out and get his hands dirty is as strong as ever.

Past Members

photo of Anna Le Tran Anna Le Tran Research Assistant

I am an undergraduate student in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Calgary. I am currently working on an undergraduate research project, supervised by Dr. Ehud Sharlin (University of Calgary) and Dr. Sowmya Somanath (OCAD University). My interests are in human-robotic interaction and biologically-inspired systems.

photo of Anthony Tran Anthony Tran Research Assistant

I am an undergraduate student studying computer science at the University of Calgary.  I am currently working on an undergraduate research project under the supervision of Dr. Ehud Sharlin (University of Calgary) and Dr. Sowmya Somanath (OCAD University).  My interests are human-computer interaction, operating systems, and financial software.