Dr. Kao is an Assistant Professor in Design+Environmental Analysis, with graduate field faculty appointments in Information Science, and Electrical & Computer Engineering at Cornell University. She founded and directs the Hybrid Body Lab. Her research practice themed Hybrid Body Craft blends aesthetic and cultural perspectives into the design of on-body interfaces. She also creates novel processes for crafting technology close to the body. She was awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2021). Her research has received several Honorable Mention/Best Paper Awards in top-tier Computer Science conferences (ACM CHI, UIST, ISWC, and DIS) while receiving media coverage by Forbes, CNN, TIME, Fast Company, WIRED. Kao has served as the program chair for ACM International Symposium of Wearable Computers (ISWC), the premier conference for wearable computers.
Kao's work has been exhibited internationally at the Pompidou Centre, the Boston Museum of Fine Art, Ars Electronica, New York Fashion Week, along with recognitions from the design community through the A'Design Award, the Fast Company Innovation by Design Award Finalist, an Ars Electronica STARTS Prize Nomination, and the SXSW Interactive Innovation Award.
She holds a Ph.D. from the MIT Media Lab, along with a Master's degree in Computer Science; and two Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science and in Technology Management, all from National Taiwan University.
Dr. Kao directs the Hybrid Body Lab, which focuses on the invention of culturally-inspired materials, processes, and tools for crafting technology on the body surface. Designing across scales, we explore how body scale interfaces can enhance our relations with everyday products and both natural and man-made environments. We conduct research at the intersection of Human-Computer Interaction, Wearable Computing, Digital Fabrication, Fashion Design, and Body Art. We synthesizing this knowledge to contribute a culturally-sensitive lens to the future of designs that interface the body and the environment. Our current investigations include:
Wearable Technology & On-Skin Interfaces
We develop novel wearable interfaces and fabrication processes, with a focus on skin-conformable or textile-based form factors. By hybridizing miniaturized robotics, machines, and materials with cultural body decoration practices, we investigate how technology can be situated as a culturally meaningful material for crafting our identities.
Designing Skins Across Scales
‘Many different types of machines that were parts of architecture have become parts of our bodies.’ --Bill Mitchell, Me++
We design “skins” that can be adapted across scales, from the architectural to the body scale. We investigate the interactions of a wearer’s body-borne interface with its surrounding ecology. This includes its interaction with other people, objects, to environments. We are also interested in developing skins that can be deployed across scales -- from the body to architectural.
Understanding Social Perceptions Towards On-Body Technologies
Wearable devices have evolved towards intrinsic human augmentation, unlocking the human skin as an interface for seamless interaction. However, the non-traditional form factor of these on-skin interfaces may raise concerns for public wear. These perceptions will influence whether a new form of technology will eventually be accepted, or rejected by society. We investigate the cultural and social concerns that need to be considered when generating on-body technologies for inclusive design.
Paper Chair and Subcommittee Chair
- 2021 ACM International Symposium on Wearable Computers (ISWC), Program Chair
- 2021 ACM Designing Interactive Systems (DIS), Subcommittee Chair for “Experiences, Artefacts, and Technology”
Associate Chair / Program Committee
- 2021 ACM User Interface Software and Technology (UIST)
- 2020, 2019 ACM Designing Interactive Systems (DIS)
- 2019 ACM International Symposium on Wearable Computers (ISWC)
- 2021, 2018 ACM Tangible Embedded and Embodied Interaction (TEI)
- 2019 ACM Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services (MobileHCI)
- Ars Electronica Outpost at Hyundai Motorstudio, Beijing, China. DuoSkin | Human (un)limited (Jan 2020)
- Centre Pompidou, Paris, France. DuoSkin | La Fabrique du Vivant (Feb 2019
- Seattle Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle, WA. Kino | A queen within: Adorned Archetypes (May 2019)
- Museo Del Gioiello, Vicenza, Italy, DuoSkin | Jewelry and the Future (Dec 2018
- New Orleans Museum of Modern Art, New Orleans, Louisiana, Kino | A queen within: Adorned Archetypes (Feb 2018)
Select Awards (full list here):
- National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2021)
- ACM Designing Interactive Systems (DIS'20) Best Paper Honorable Mention Award, 2020
- ACM International Symposium on Wearable Computers (ISWC'19) Best Paper Honorable Mention Award, 2019
- ACM International Symposium on Wearable Computers (ISWC'18) Best Paper Honorable Mention Award, 2018
- ACM UIST'16 Best Paper Award, 2016
- ACM CHI'15 Best Paper Honorable Mention Award, 2015
Select Design and Innovation Awards:
- Fast Company Innovation by Design Award Honorable Mention | Experimental Category, 2018
- World Technology Award Finalist in Design, 2018
- Ars Electronica STARTS Prize Nomination, 2017
- SXSW Interactive Innovation Award, 2017
- Fast Company Innovation by Design Award Finalist | Fashion & Beauty Category, 2017
- A'Design Award, 2017
- Fast Company World Changing Ideas Award Finalist, 2017
- DEA 1110/ COGST 1111 Making a Difference by Design
- DEA 6040 Future Body Craft: Fabricating On-Skin Interfaces
- DEA 2200 Art+Science
- Ph.D. MIT Media Lab
- M.S. in Computer Science, National Taiwan University
- B.S in Computer Science, National Taiwan University
- B.B.A. in Technology Management, National Taiwan University
- Design+Tech Initiative University Committee, representing the College of Human Ecology