MCubed Funding received for Tactile Interfaces and Environments

Prof. Sean Ahlquist (Architecture), Prof. Costanza Colombi (Psychiatry) and Prof. Dale Ulrich / Leah Ketcheson (Kinesiology) were awarded an MCubed grant from the University of Michigan for their project "Tactile interfaces and environments for developing motor skills and social
interaction in children with autism"

This research intends to engage the fields of architecture, psychiatry and kinesiology to develop and test technologies that respond to the array of sensory challenges facing children with autism. While diverse and highly individualized in terms of the sensory modalities which affect such children, the result is often delayed abilities in fine motor skills and quality of movement. Re-imagining the interface with technology as both a tactile surface and physical environment, the senses, beyond just the visual, can be engaged as a part of the grading of movement and fine motor skill-building process. The primary means for generating such technology is the use of advanced CNC knitting technology to create textiles serving as stretchable, pressure-sensitive interactive surfaces. This project involves the development of activities which capture the innovative capacities of a stretchable tactile interface, and the initiation of a pilot study to measure the development of fine motor skills.

MCubed stimulates innovative research and scholarship by distributing real-time seed funding to multi-unit, faculty-led teams. Through this first-of-its-kind research funding program, faculty from at least two different campus units can form a collaborative trio, or “cube,” and request either $60K or $15K to advance their idea right away. Housed in the University of Michigan of Office of Research (UMOR), MCubed is part of the Third Century Initiative, established by the president and provost. Building upon U-M's excellence and spirit of cooperation across disciplines, MCubed makes great ideas go!

AwardsSean Ahlquist