Ravi Karkar: Measuring Health – From Tools, to Data, to Value

The next BostonCHI meeting is Ravi Karkar: Measuring Health – From Tools, to Data, to Value on Tue, May 16 at 6:45 PM.

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BostonCHI May 2023


The ongoing boom in personal health technologies offers new potential to support people in collecting and interpreting data about their own health and well-being. However, there is a mismatch between what technology currently delivers (e.g., step counts, sleep scores) versus what people expect from it (i.e., personal health insights and recommendations).

Current technologies fall short of their potential due to complex and interrelated challenges (e.g., in meeting personal needs, in data quality, in their integration into clinical practice). A holistic approach is therefore necessary, focusing on end-to-end design that understands the individual, their environments, and their contexts.

My research focuses on human-centered approaches to collecting, interacting with, and using novel health data toward improving human well-being through personalized insights and recommendations.

I explore this in two major thrusts of research: (1) I build specialized tools to enable people living with chronic conditions to better leverage their personal health data in understanding and managing their health; and (2) Through the process of creating and studying such tools, I systematize frameworks and design recommendations to assist future developers in designing personal health tools.

About Ravi Karkar

My research focuses on designing, developing, and evaluating tools that can enable people to gather data and interpret personal aspects of their medical condition in the context of their day-to-day lives. Specifically, I focus on opportunities for individualized interventions that can be more effective and appropriate than one-size-fits-all population-based interventions.

I collaborate closely with clinical researchers to build targeted tools to support patients in better understanding and managing chronic conditions. I have also contributed a domain agnostic framework and approaches toward better design of personal health technologies. An overarching theme across the tools that I build is a focus on translating the research — taking the research from lab-studies into the hands of the individuals who need it.

Reenvisioning Surveillance Infrastructure through Design and Photovoice

The next BostonCHI meeting is Reenvisioning Surveillance Infrastructure through Design and Photovoice on Tue, Apr 11 at 6:45 PM.

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BostonCHI April 2023


Moving toward equitable, inclusive, and sustainable futures requires new and evolved approaches to conducting human-computer interaction research.

This requires that we, as academics, practitioners, and policymakers take on more community-engaged approaches to our work and tap into unheard populations who remain voiceless in popular and academic discourses. Such voices offer brilliant insights into technology’s potential, ethics, and future.

This study draws from two such cases, one speculative design study and a photovoice study in collaboration with two Detroit community organizations. Through these two cases, we unpack how we engage communities in reenvisioning technological infrastructure, particularly our safety infrastructures. In this talk, we will discuss the theoretical and methodological implications of redesigning and rethinking surveillance infrastructure when considering their voices.


Tawanna Dillahunt

Tawanna Dillahunt is the 2022–2023 William Bentinck-Smith Fellow at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute and an associate professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information and holds a courtesy appointment with the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department. She leads the Social Innovations Group (SIG), an interdisciplinary group of individuals whose vision is to design, build, and enhance technologies to solve real-world problems affecting marginalized groups and individuals primarily in the U.S. Her current projects aim to address unemployment, environmental sustainability, and technical literacy by fostering social and socio-technical capital within these communities. At Radcliffe, she is working to explore and raise the visibility of alternative economic futures for Black and Brown Detroiters.

Tawanna is an ACM Distinguished Member and an inaugural Skip Ellis Early Career Award recipient. She holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Computer Science from the Oregon Health and Science University, and a B.S. in Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University. She was also a software engineer in Intel Corporation’s Desktop Board and LAN Access Divisions for several years.

Alex Jiahong Lu

Alex Lu is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan’s School of Information. Alex’s past work looks into how data-driven surveillance infrastructures come into being and their harms in varied sociopolitical contexts on different scales, particularly policing surveillance in the city of Detroit, behavior management in the classroom setting, and ideology control in China. Working alongside two communities in Eastside Detroit, his dissertation examines the history and imaginaries of surveillance infrastructures in Detroit through an affective lens. Through arts- and community-based participatory approaches, he is working with residents to make their everyday negotiation with surveillance infrastructures visible and envision alternative sociotechnical infrastructures for preferable futures.

Alex holds an MSW degree from the University of Michigan School of Social Work and a B.E. in Information Engineering and Media from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Alex worked with Meta’s Community Growth Team as a UX researcher intern last summer, and he will be on the job market next year for both academic and industry positions.

Co-creating the future of BostonCHI

The next BostonCHI meeting is Co-creating the future of BostonCHI on Tue, Feb 28 at 6:45 PM.

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BostonCHI Feb 2023

An Invitation

Did you know that BostonCHI has been in continuous operation for over 35 years? The past few years have been markedly different from all the rest, with the move from gathering in person, to gathering online. And now, it’s time to change again.

BostonCHI invites you to join us in shaping our journey ahead.

In this online workshop, we’ll run through a series of enjoyable interactive activities on a digital whiteboard, to help us answer the question: where will BostonCHI go next?

Schedule – EST (UTC-5)

6:45 – 7:00: introduction

Kick off the meeting with some light intro activities

7:00 – 7:15: the journey up to now

  • Build up a collaborative journey map of BostonCHI over time
  • What has worked well during the pandemic years?
  • What has worked well for in-person events?

7:15 – 7:45: possible futures

Brainstorm where BostonCHI might go next, looking at topics such as:

  • Future event formats
  • Potential themes, topics, and speakers for next year’s talks
  • Connecting and growing the community
  • Member experience

7:45 – 8:00: a look inside the steering committee

  • Steering themes for the year
  • Operational updates; how the steering committee is organized
  • Open roles and opportunities

The Human Side of Tech