CMU doctoral student named one of MIT Technology Review's top 35 innovators under 35

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Chris Harrison, a doctoral student in Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute, has been recognized by the MIT's Technology Review as one of the world's top 35 innovators under the age of 35, according to a university press release.

Mr. Harrison, 28, is working to develop new ways for people to interact with digital devices, particularly when they are mobile. His focus is finding alternatives to the keyboard and mouse people typically use to control computers.

Using combinations of sound and vision sensors, he has enabled people to control digital devices by tapping on tables, walls or their own skin.

"Chris has a vision of how interfaces to computing power need to change as our computing environment changes, and the technical skills for making his ideas work in the real world," Justine Cassell, HCII director, said in the press release.

Mr. Harrison was selected for the 2012 TR35 list by a panel of expert judges, the editorial staff of Technology Review and online.

Mr. Harrison will join other TR35 honorees in discussing their achievements Oct. 24-26 at the EmTech MIT 2012 conference at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Mass.

Earlier this summer, Mr. Harrison was selected as one of 40 recipients worldwide of a highly competitive 2012 Google Ph.D. Fellowship.

Google launched the fellowship program four years ago to recognize outstanding graduate students in computer science and related disciplines. Fellows are reimbursed for tuition and fees, receive a $32,000 annual stipend and work with a mentor from Google Research.

Also this year, he and a fellow HCII student, Robert Xiao, secured a $100,000 Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship on behalf of HCII.

A native of England who grew up in and around New York City, Mr. Harrison joined the HCII Ph.D. program in 2007 after earning his undergraduate and master's degrees in computer science at New York University.

Since then, he has produced a string of innovations, including:

• Lean and Zoom, a technology for automatically adjusting the magnification of a computer monitor based on a person's distance from the screen. CMU's QoLT Foundry has since commercialized it.

• Scratch Input, a means of controlling devices by tapping or stroking tabletops or whiteboards.

• Minput, which turns a small mobile device into its own computer mouse.

• Skinput, a method for controlling devices by tapping buttons projected on a person's own skin, which he helped develop while interning at Microsoft Research.

• OmniTouch, a Kinect-based system that turns almost any surface into a touchscreen.

• Touche, a new sensing technique he helped develop as part of a team at Disney Research, Pittsburgh, that enables objects to sense how they are being touched.

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