Category Archives: Uncategorized

AME to host TEI 2019

Our bid to host TEI 2019, the fourteenth International ACM Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction at AME has been officially accepted!


We will host the conference in Tempe Arizona, a vibrant and growing Sonoran desert city. The main venue, the Tempe Mission Palms, is walking distance to the ASU Campus and in the heart of Tempe shops, bars, and galleries. The conference rooms, AV services, catering, palm courtyard, and rooftop pool reception deck will offer a flexible meeting space for academic and social gatherings during the conference. Phoenix is well known as an ideal winter destination, boasting average high temperatures in February ranging from 68 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit and a low chance of precipitation, while much of the rest of the northern hemisphere may be suffering from severe winter weather.


Hybrid Materials

Our bid proposed the theme of Hybrid Materials with the aim of strengthening transdisciplinary tries across the tangible interaction, HCI, material sciences, social sciences, and arts communities. Gaining increasing momentum over the last five years, the material turn and its effect within HCI has generated development in numerous fields of interest to the TEI community.


Over the past few years, TEI research has increasingly embraced hybridity, whether through material explorations of composites such as bioelectronic, on-body, or active materials, or theoretical inquiries into socio-technical systems as hybrid assemblies. The theme of Hybrid Materials will continue to catalyze this exciting trend of tangible interaction research at the intersection of social, technical, biological, and artistic systems. Topics focusing on hybridity in interaction design include but are not limited to:

  • active materials
  • materiality
  • material as interface
  • expressive computing
  • human perception
  • bioelectronic systems and interactions
  • on-body computing
  • new materialism
  • computer as material
  • sociotechnical assemblies
  • design things
  • seamful computing
  • hybrid sense-making
  • transdisciplinarity and HCI
  • rapid prototyping
  • participatory design
  • productive tensions in design

Thanks to everyone who helped and contributed to our bid. On behalf of AME, we are really excited and very honored to host the conference in 2019!

Our full bid document [PDF]

Bio workshop at HeatSync

Hi folks, as we are continuing our work in DIY biology with general public and non-professional biology hobbyists, last week Cass, Stacey and Me conducted a DIY bio workshop at HeatSync Labs in Meza, Az. HeatSync is a community driven maker-space, one of the coolest places I’ve ever been in Arizona. Unfortunately Matt couldn’t make it this time, even though he immensely contributed in organising and planning the workshop.DSC_0414.JPG

The first part of the workshop was about yoghurt fermentation. Cass explained the steps of yoghurt fermentation process and worked closely with the participants in the process. Here are some images.

Then we moved to the second part of the workshop – Gram staining. In this activity participants were asked to follow instructions printed on the card given by us, as well as Cass’ guidance. Everyone was so excited to see the microscopic images of the slides they have created, actually results were awesome!


While everyone was partying with bacterias in the downstairs, I was busy connecting the camera of our DIY incubator to the HeatSync WIFI network. Yes, now we have a WIFI camera inside our incubator as we promised in one of our earlier posts!

We left our incubator and some basic materials at heat syncs lab, so that they can play with them in the summer. Hopefully we will get some useful feeds from the camera too!DSC_0411

I’m Piyum, signing off and running to catch the flight to CHI 16 to present our Bio work there. More on that later! Thanks for reading.


Here we were at CHI 16 poster session.




Art/ Science of cooking and sustainability.

Hey’all, this is Sunny and I am a new member in the growing family of the SANDS. I am an industrial design student at the Herberger’s and I potentially help in coming up with concepts and aesthetic models for the sustainable solar cooking research project. I assist in designing and finding new ways of using rich solar energy to our advantage and help community find new ways to use this energy for their cooking needs.

The first set of concepts looks into how we could take the french cooking technique “Sous-vide” and figure concepts that could help us in this regard.

So, what is sous-vide? well, Sous-vide is a method of cooking in which food is sealed in airtight plastic bags then placed in a water bath or in a temperature-controlled steam environment for longer than normal cooking times—96 hours or more, in some cases—at an accurately regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking, typically around 55 to 60 °C (131 to 140 °F) for meat and higher for vegetables – our friends at Wikipedia.

I started off by sketching different concepts and making a 3D model on SolidWorks and rendered them on KeyShot. From there we moved on to 3D printing the design for testing. The prints and the forms have come out well and it is on to testing and validating.

Stay tuned for the results!

DIYbio Update!

Hi All! My name is Cass and I’m a new member of the SANDS Group here at ASU (pictured above explaining some cool science with my hands at the head of the table). I’m a PhD student in Biological Design, and will be helping out as a science advisor for some awesome new DIYbio projects at SANDS. Last week, we held our first bio workshop, doing a disc diffusion assay with some members of the community. This experiment allowed us to determine if different compounds have antibacterial properties, an important test when antibiotic resistance is on the rise.

To do the test, participants were each given a petri dish with agar media (bacteria food) and a tube of E. coli culture to spread on it. (*Fun fact! Almost all strains of E. coli, including the one we used, are harmless. In fact, there are millions of E. coli cells living happily in your gut right now). Once the bacteria were spread out, discs with antibiotics were placed on the plate along with materials participants were interested in testing. We used various soaps, a penny, and even garlic. These plates were then nestled cozily in the lab’s incubator, built previously at SANDS, so the bacteria could grow overnight.

After growing the bacteria, we can looked for zones of clearing in the lawn of bacteria around the disc/material placed on the plate. Are the bacteria growing right up to the disc? Then they’re resistant to whatever’s on it! Do you see a zone of clearing around the disc where the bacteria can’t grow? Then your compound has antibacterial properties! This test uses some basic microbiology to answer some important questions. It’s still used all the time in clinics to determine if a certain drug will work against a patient’s disease or not. We wanted to use this experiment for our first workshop to highlight the ability of any person to do such a powerful test, and bring attention to the important issue of antibiotic resistance. As our use of antibiotics increases, resistance to these drugs also increases. Searching for new antibiotics is an important area of research in which citizen scientists can participate. Just like bacteria are all around us, so are potential antibiotics.

We’re planning several more future bio workshops to involve the public in simple, empowering science, so keep an eye out!


Fun with solar cooking

It is early October and our mid-day temperatures are still consistently in the 90’s. This actually feels like a relief from a few weeks ago, when 90s were our ‘lows’, and our highs hit over 115F. Heat and UV radiation pose serious challenges in Phoenix, from the critical issues of heat vulnerability and heat mortality, to the marginalizing effects heat has on different socio-economic groups (e.g., stakeholders with limited access to cooling appliances or transportation). At the same time, heat also presents new opportunities for imagining what could be: we can creatively harvest heat or create broader systems that energize communities around the topic of climate change.

To examine both the challenges and the opportunities presented by extreme heat, we have been running a diary study over the summer, which asked people to document how heat effects their lives. Jennifer and I are now wrapping up the interviews, and at the most basic level, we are finding that heat really does impact people’s routines. Nutrition and exercise are two examples: who wants to go running or use the stove/oven when it’s over 100 degrees out?

So this past week, I have been experimenting with and thinking about different ways to use heat for good, especially in the domain of food preparation. Solar cookers are an obvious direction, but while there is no shortage of DIY solar cooker designs, information on how effective these are (and the tradeoffs between complexity and efficiency) is harder to come by. In the most basic terms, a solar cooker maximizes heat gain and minimizes heat loss. Most examples I’ve seen follow a similar pattern to do this: light is directed onto a cooking area and everything is insulated.

As a first-try attempt to both make a solar cooker and burn off some post-CHI steam (pun intended), last Friday, Jennifer, Piyum and I threw together a bunch of (really) DIY ideas using just what we had in the lab and a few things I picked up at home depot.


Jennifer made a control box/tinfoil version (which reached 150F), and Piyum did some experimentation with layered lids to prevent convection. Fun fact: heat loss happens through radiation, conduction, and convection (see this tutorial), so it’s not surprising that insulation made a huge difference. A simple styrofoam cooler with a mirror inside gets you to 200F.


I think if you actually sealed the lid properly (ours is just taped in one place), you can easily boil water in this, which is neat, right? Another fun fact, the best insulator is actually a vacuum, so this commercially-available $360 solar cooker users vacuum tubes.

Many baking recipes tend to call for 350F, and with that as my goal, this week, I set out to improve a few things. I used mirror acrylic to optimize on the heat gain, and built out a two-layer enclosure with bits of styrofoam in between to minimize the heat loss.


I also added a black metal platform to simulate where the at-scale cooking container might go (most likely something cast iron). I used two layered acrylic lids and also, quite pessimistically, assumed this temperature sensor (max 125C) would help me log the temperature.

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The sensor maxed out in under 5 minutes, and reverting back to the old-fashioned oven thermometer, I saw upwards of 275F (outside temp was around 90F).

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I placed a magnifying sheet on the top, which I’m not actually sure made any difference because I never bothered with any controls since it’s Friday.

So 275F is actually pretty good: some slow-cooking recipes call for 250F to roast chicken or pork, along with many slow-baking bread and dessert recipes. I think with slightly better insulation (i.e., black enclosure and a lid that’s not half-taped because it’s Friday), as well as an actual cooking surface that retains heat (i.e., a dutch oven), this would easily get to 350F. A modified version of this would also work as a solar dehydrator or a hot composter. Looking forward to building out more of these ideas in the coming weeks, especially now that a few thermocouples are on order!