Hi, I'm Maryam!

I have a Ph.D. in Systems Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo. My research focuses on designing novel methods for people to interact with technology. My friends at IBM Research call me the "Cool Things Czar" because of all the cool technologies I play with!

Research
Art
Design

Research

I'm part computer scientist, part user experience analyst, and part interface artist with a passion for exploring the intersection of art and programming. At IBM Research, I established Cognitive Objects as research agenda. I am also the creator of TJBot, a cute paper robot designed to enable people to easily learn programming with IBM Watson services. I have published or filed 30+ patents and 20+ papers. My new research project is to make quantum computing accessible for everyone!

Art

I love mixing colors and playing with lines! I spent two years at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) experimenting with drawing, painting, sculpture, and wearable media.

Being fascinated with blending art with computer science, at OCAD I explored wearable media as a novel way for interacting with everyday outfits. For example, I used conductive fabric, fiber optic thread, and sewable microcontrollers to create a dress that reacts to Twitter messages and a scarf that sends text messages when worn. The pictures below show how I used fiber optics and conductive thread. Check out my YouTube channel for more detail on these projects.

Design

Design of Environments

At IBM Research, I conducted several design explorations to understand how manipulating lighting, music, and images in a room could manipulate the mood of its occupants. I created the Zen Garden experience to relieve stress during a meeting, as well as the Inspiration experience to spark creativity.

Design of Physical Systems

Another aspect of my work at IBM Research has been the development of cognitive objects, which are everyday objects instrumented with sensors, actuators, and micro-controllers in order to provide a more meaningful interaction. I built a cognitive chair to help monitor Parkinson’s disease, a cognitive lamp that responds to voice, and a cognitive dress that shines based on sentiment analysis.


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I created TJBot as an experiment to find the best practices in the design and implementation of cognitive objects.TJBot is a DIY open source robot which can be 3D printed or lasercut from cardboard. He can be brought to life using Watson's AI services. TJBot was born on November 9, 2016 via this blog post
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Design of Digital Systems

I currently manage a team of designers to create online experiences for Quantum Computing research & education, under the branding of IBM Q. The complexity of quantum computing interfaces makes it a fascinating HCI challenge that requires a tight collaboration with quantum computing researchers and scientists, educators, and system developers. My team is exploring numerous approaches for interacting with and learning about quantum computers, including physical and virtual games, user guides and documentation, and visual programming tools.

In addition to developing novel user interfaces for programming Quantum systems, I've also explored new approaches to teaching people how to program cognitive systems. I've been working with makers, teachers, and students to make programming TJBot easier. We began by creating guides on GitHub and Instructables, but took a more radical approach by implementing a Swift Playground to program TJBot!

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When it comes to interface design, each application represents a unique set of challenges to explore. I'm fascinated with navigating through a wide range of media and platforms (mobile, web, wearables, and even physical objects) to create a delightful and engaging experience! :-) .

If you have a cool idea for a new project, feel free to send me a note at ashoori {at} gmail {dot} com.

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