Design Alumnus Wins HCI International Student Design Gold Award


Chirag Murthy, an alumnus of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design (MDes ’18), will receive a Gold Award for his submission to the 2018 HCI International Student Design Competition.  Murthy’s award-winning project “tac.tic,” is a tactile design language for indoor-outdoor pedestrian navigation. 

The “tac.tic” design language aims to navigate pedestrians, both indoor and outdoor, by communicating way-finding instructions to the user through easy-to-learn patterns. “tac.tic” consists of a sleeve with 9 vibrotactile motors in a 3 X 3 grid, that navigates a user through complex environments, by drawing patterns on the forearm. Apart from communicating directions that help navigate people, the design language aims to communicate the complexity of indoor environments, such as going left vs. going up the stairs to the left vs. going down the stairs to the left.

“Through a process of iterative prototyping and testing with people, the result is a preliminary language for navigating pedestrians within the built environment,” said Chirag. “It also paves the way for designers to design experiences beyond the audiovisual.

“It is unique because it not only communicates directions like left, right, straight, behind, northeast and northwest, but can also communicate architectural elements like stairs, escalators, ramps, elevators and doors,” added Chirag. “It is particularly helpful in situations where there exists a straight path, stairs going up straight ahead and stairs going down straight ahead. ‘tac.tic’ can communicate exactly which way to go, by variations in vibration pattern, intensity, and duration.”

For Chirag, who is now working at Microsoft as a UX Designer on the Skype Consumer team the notion of creating a concept like “tac.tic” did not even seem possible before coming to the School of Design.

“To be honest, I could not have imagined working on such a project before I came to CMU,” said Chirag. “The first year here completely opened up the scope of projects I was confident working on. I came to CMU having worked extensively on screen based experiences, and leaving with a confidence of working on any experience regardless of the medium. 

“What I love about the teaching at CMU Design is the fact that there isn’t a focus on one particular type/kind/area of design. Being here made me willing to experiment, and one such experiment was this project. In one sentence, the education at CMU made me what I call a ‘One designer,’ meaning the practice of design that includes anything and everything under the sun, or even on and beyond it.

Chirag also appreciates the “holistic approach” to design education he found in the Master’s program.

“CMU truly understands and teaches design in a way that I don’t know any other school currently does,” added Chirag. “The education here forces you to unlearn what you know and question the status quo. While you will get to work on what interests you, will also be exposed to a thousand things you never knew interested you. It doesn’t matter what your particular interests are, there will be someone at CMU to help you make progress in that area.

“If you are open to experimentation, willing to unlearn, excited about future technology and want to make a difference, CMU is the place.”

Murthy will receive his Gold Award for “tac.tic” HCI International 2018, the 20th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 17th.

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Date Published: 
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
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