Marianna Obrist


Marianna Obrist is Professor of Multisensory Experiences and Head of the Sussex Computer-Human Interaction (SCHI ‘sky’) Lab at the University of Sussex, UK. She is also the research group leader of the Creative Technology Research Group at the School of Engineering and Informatics. Her research focus is on the study of touch, taste, and smell experiences for novel interface and interaction design. Before joining Sussex, Marianna was a Marie Curie Fellow at Newcastle University, UK, and prior to this an Assistant Professor at the University of Salzburg, Austria. Marianna is an inaugural member for the ACM Future of Computing Academy, and was selected Young Scientist 2017 and 2018 to attend the World Economic Forum in the People’s Republic of China. She is co-founder of OWidgets LTD, a University start-up that is enabling the design of novel olfactory experiences. Most recently, Marianna became a Visiting Professor at the Burberry Material Futures Research Group at RCA London and was a Visiting Professor at the HCI Engineering Group at MIT CSAIL in summer 2019. For more details see:

Talk: When the senses meet technology: designing multisensory experiences

Multisensory experiences are a central part of our everyday lives. However, we often tend to take them for granted, at least when our different senses function normally (when we have sight functioning) or are corrected-to-normal (when we use glasses). However, closer inspection to any, even the most mundane experiences, reveals the remarkable sensory world in which we live in. Consider the seemingly ordinary experience of eating a regular meal. At first, it may seem like an ordinary experience, however, it is actually a fusion of the senses. We first eat with our eyes, but we are also exposed to countless sensory signals that will influence our dining experience such as food textures, tastes, aromas, and even sounds that come both from the atmosphere in which we are immersed in while eating and our interactions with the food and utensils we use to eat. Beyond eating there are many more examples for multisensory experiences can make a difference in how we perceive and interact with the world we live in, from the physical, virtual, and mixed reality environments. I will present the role of multisensory research from a Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and experience-centered design perspective, and showcase how we can integrate knowledge on the human sensory systems with advances in computing technology.