Seminar - Lora Oehlberg, University of Calgary

Data Physicalization and Community Collaboration in Fabrication Spaces

Wednesday 14th November

12:30 - 14:00

H301 Poynton (Centenary Building)


Lora Oehlberg is one of the World's leading researchers in studying the interactions between human-computer interaction, creativity & cognition, information visualization, and computer-supported cooperative work. Her ideas on making, sketching, fabrication and tangible interfaces lead the way and have resulted in exciting papers at CHI, DIS and VIS. Lora’s experiments in combining physical and digital engineering should be of interest to many in SMCSE. In her talk at City, Lora will briefly introduce her overall research interests, and then dive into two topics that she has been thinking about during her research sabbatical - Data Physicalizations and Community Collaboration in Fabrication Spaces. Hopefully she will show us some computer-controlled knitting ...


Data Physicalizations are objects whose geometry or material encode data.  Authoring data physicalization is still challenging, and many fundamental research issues behind data physicalization remain unexplored.  Lora is interested in how people participate in creating data physicalizations, particularly how fabrication with data can become a reflective experience.  In particular, she is explore ways of moving beyond visual object ornamentation, and instead using data to inform the geometry or fabrication approach of an object.  In her talk, she will discuss ongoing projects on new physical data representations through digital embroidery, computer-controlled knitting, and crochet.

Community Collaboration in Fabrication Spaces - maker spaces, fablabs, and workshops are rich, socio-technical ecosystems. They are where communities of people gather to create, each entering the space with different knowledge and expertise.  In these spaces, people explore new designs through different fabrication techniques, bringing together new hardware and software tools. However, fabrication spaces require management – from providing safety and machine-based training, to managing resource use and consumables, to tracking member use to justify allocation of resources.  While on sabbatical, Lora has been looking at different ways to manage these spaces, identifying local and universal solutions for fabrication space management.  She will discuss two maker spaces that she helped manage at Calgary – FabLabX and Garage 142 – to share her immediate reference points for how such spaces can be practically managed and run.  Her research goal is to identify opportunities for leveraging data within fabrication spaces to improve our experiences within them

Bio - Lora Oehlberg

Lora Oehlberg is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science at the University of Calgary in Canada and one of the faculty directors of the Interactions Lab (iLab).  Her research addresses how technology can better support creativity, collaboration, and curiosity in a range of domains, including interaction design, electronic fashion, improvised digital fabrication, physical data representations, improvised theatre, and healthcare innovation. Prior to the University of Calgary, she was a post-doctoral researcher at Inria Saclay (France), interned with product development groups at Autodesk and at Apple, and was a research intern at the Palo Alto Research Centre and the Stanford Centre for Design Research.  She has a PhD and MSc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, and a BSc in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University.