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Innovation & Startups

CMU's Chris Harrison named a Top 35 Innovator Under 35 by MIT Review


CMU’s Chris Harrison, a creator of technologies that takes digital devices to unexpected places—like your forearm—was selected by MIT’s Technology Review as one of the world’s Top 35 Innovators Under 35.
 
Harrison has been finding new ways for humans to engage with technology for several years. In the beginning, there was Skinput, a project that challenged the way we use cellphones, allowing users to dial by tapping a projection of numbers on our skin or a table.
 
Then there's Lean and Zoom, a system that automatically adjusts the magnification of a computer monitor based on the distance you sit from the screen. This idea has already been commercialized by CMU’s QoLT Foundry.
 
Touché is a sensing technique Harrison helped to develop as part of a team at Disney Research, Pittsburgh, that enables objects to sense how they are being touched.

“I’m pretty stoked and honored,” says Harrison, who recently returned from a six-week honeymoon in Tanzania. “It’s one of the top awards young scientists can receive early in their careers. It’s a huge honor, as good as it gets.”

Harrison, 28, is a native of England and Ph.D. student in CMU's Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII). The idea is to take everyday devices—a computer mouse or a keyboard—and give it a nuance that makes it easier and more convenient to use, he says.
 
Harrison sees a future where desktops will become dinosaurs and play a waning role in everyday life. Mobile technologies will be found everywhere, from the workplace and hospitals to our kitchen appliances.

“The big high level tagline is empowering people to interact with small devices in big ways,” he says.
 
The list of the illustrious 35 was selected by a panel of experts and the editorial staff of Technology Review based on a evaluation of more than 250 nominations. The 35 winners for 2012 will be featured in the September/October issue of Technology Review.
 
Harrison will join other TR35 honorees in discussing their achievements at the EmTech MIT 2012 conference, at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge Oct. 24-26.

 Writer: Debra Smit
Source: Chris Harrison, CMU
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