Hiroshi Ishii: Vision-Driven: Beyond Tangible Bits, Towards Radical Atoms

Hiroshi Ishii

Associate Director, MIT Media Lab, Jerome B. Wiesner Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, Co-Director, Things That Think, & Head, Tangible Media Group

Tuesday, June 10, 2014, 6:30 PM to 9 PM

Tufts University
196 Boston Avenue, Medford, MA
4th floor

Parking is available around the building and in the parking structure for 200 Boston Ave. The closest stop on the “T” is Davis square on the Red Line. Take the #94 bus to Boston Ave & Stoughton St.

This is a joint event with BostonCHI Labs




Our vision-driven design research is carried out through an artistic approach. Whereas today’s mainstream Human Computer Interaction (HCI) research addresses functional concerns – the needs of users, practical applications, and usability evaluation – Tangible Bits and Radical Atoms are driven by vision. This is because today’s technologies will become obsolete in one year, and today’s applications will be replaced in 10 years, but true visions – we believe – can last longer than 100 years.

Tangible Bits seeks to realize seamless interfaces between humans, digital information, and the physical environment by giving physical form to digital information, making bits directly manipulable and perceptible. Our goal is to invent new design media for artistic expression as well as for scientific analysis, taking advantage of the richness of human senses and skills – as developed through our lifetime of interaction with the physical world – as well as the computational reflection enabled by real-time sensing and digital feedback.

Radical Atoms takes a leap beyond Tangible Bits by assuming a hypothetical generation of materials that can change form and properties dynamically, becoming as reconfigurable as pixels on a screen. Radical Atoms is the future material that can transform its’ shape, conform to constraints, and inform the users of their affordances. Radical Atoms is a vision for the future of human-material interaction, in which all digital information has a physical manifestation so that we can interact directly with it.

I will present the trajectory of our vision-driven design research from Tangible Bits towards Radical Atoms, and a variety of interaction design projects that were presented and exhibited in Media Arts, Design, and Science communities.


Hiroshi Ishii is Jerome B. Wiesner Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab, where he is head of the Tangible Media group and co-director of the Things That Think (TTT) consortium. Ishii’s research focuses upon the design of seamless interfaces between humans, digital information, and the physical environment. His group seeks to change the “painted bits” of GUIs to “tangible bits” by giving physical form to digital information. Their work emphasizes that the development of tangible interfaces requires the rigor of both scientific and artistic review.

Ishii and his team have presented “Tangible Bits” at a variety of academic, design, and artistic venues such as ACM SIGCHI and SIGGRAPH, Industrial Design Society of America, AIGA, Ars Electronica, ICC, Centre Pompidou, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. A display of many of the group’s projects took place at the NTT InterCommunication Center (ICC) in Tokyo in 2000, and at Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Austria from September 2001 to August 2004.

Prior to joining the Media Lab in 1995, Ishii led a CSCW research group at NTT Human Interface Laboratories, where he and his team invented TeamWorkStation and ClearBoard. He was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Toronto in 1993 and 1994. Ishii received his BE degree in electronic engineering, and ME and PhD degrees in computer engineering, from Hokkaido University, Japan. In 2006 ACM SIGCHI elected Ishii to the CHI Academy, recognizing his substantial contributions to the field of Human-Computer Interactions through the creation of a new genre called “Tangible User Interfaces.”

Evening Schedule

  • 6:30 – 7:00 Networking over pizza and beverages
  • 7:00 – 8:30 Meeting
  • 8:30 – 9:00 CHI Dessert and more networking!

Monthly Sponsors

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Tufts Univerity is hosting us.
Tufts University

BostonCHI is sponsoring food.


Vitamin T is sponsoring dessert

Vitamin T