Monday, February 26, 2018
12:00 PM
1400 Wegmans Hall
Zhen Bai
Carnegie Mellon University
Augmenting Social Reality for Good
The profound transformation of the employment landscape requires advanced socio-emotional skills for effective collaboration and communication in cross-disciplinary and diverse cultural environments. People’s ability to cope with social situations and exert influence on others is critically linked with their ability to understand and affect meanings that others associate with their surroundings. This association is “meaning making”, the transformation of reality “in the raw” to socially constructed reality, which fundamentally affects how individuals act towards objects, people and situations. It remains challenging, however, to help people navigate their social reality because it is situated in the immediate surroundings, constantly changes through social interaction, and is only accessible through communication.

In this talk, I will describe my research exploring the design space of Augmented Social Reality, which elevates people’s abilities, motivations and experiences through technology-enhanced social cognition and social interaction situated in the immediate physical and social environments. I will focus on two projects. The first uses the “looking glass” metaphor of Augmented Reality to help develop “theory of mind” for preschool children with and without autism. The second, “Sensing Curiosity in Play and Responding”, uses theory and data driven approaches to elaborate fine-grained social accounts of curiosity, and to design social scaffoldings through a collaborative intelligent peer to support curiosity for small-group STEAM learning. Through these projects, I will reflect on the interdisciplinary opportunities and future directions of designing accessible and supportive social reality for lifelong learning, social wellbeing and quality of life in a diverse and ever-changing world.

Bio: Zhen Bai is a post-doctoral fellow of the Language Technology Institute at the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University. She received her Ph.D. degree from the Graphics & Interaction Group at the Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge in 2015. Her background combines augmented and tangible user interfaces, human-robot interaction, educational technologies, computer-supported collaborative learning, and design for diversity. Her research has drawn from multiple disciplines including developmental psychology, social science, learning science, machine learning, and natural language processing to design interactive and intelligent interfaces that support lifelong learning and quality of life, by eliminating cognitive, socio-emotional and cultural barriers among people with diverse abilities and backgrounds.