Hello, I’m alex.

I am an Assistant Professor at CMU HCII , starting in January 2021.
I am hiring. I am looking for graduate students to join my lab. If you are interested in working with me, don’t hesitate reach out.

In my research, I investigate and develop interactive design tools that enable digital fabrication of complex shapes and structures for novice users.

In my work, I propose unifying material and device and develop what I call metamaterial devices. While metamaterials, which are materials with properties defined by their engineered microstructure, were so far understood as materials–I think of them as devices. My research focuses on new types of machines, the functionality of which are solely defined by the material’s microstructure. The typically intricate cell-structures are hard to design, because only if all cells move in concert, they can perform their macroscopic device function. I develop interactive systems that assist users in modeling and generating the material geometry.

My research and expertise lie at the intersection of human-computer interaction, digital fabrication, deformation mechanics, and material science. My research has been published in and awarded by premier venues, including ACM UIST and CHI. My work has been invited for multiple exhibitions, including a permanent exhibition at the Ars Electronica Center and and travelling exhibitions through South America and Germany.

Before joining CMU, I was a post-doc with Olga Sorkine-Hornung at ETH Zürich, and a PhD student with Patrick Baudisch at the Hasso Plattner Institute.

email: alexandra.ion [at] inf.ethz.ch
location: Zurich, Switzerland (UTC+2)

on the web: google scholartwitterresearch gateLinkedIn

Curriculum Vitae:   PDF


PhD topic “Metamaterial Devices”

Find my PhD thesis here: Metamaterial Devices

My work is currently exhibited at the Ars Electronica Center

[10] Understanding Metamaterial Mechanisms.

Alexandra Ion, David Lindlbauer ,Philipp Herholz, Marc Alexa and Patrick Baudisch.
In Proceedings of CHI’19. Glasgow, UK, May 4 – 9, 2019.

paper   video  acm dl

[9] Metamaterial Textures.

Alexandra Ion, Robert Kovacs, Oliver Schneider, Pedro Lopes and Patrick Baudisch.
In Proceedings of CHI’18. Montreal, Canada, April 21 – 26, 2018.

paper  video  acm dl

[8] Digital Mechanical Metamaterials.

Alexandra Ion, Ludwig Wall, Robert Kovacs, and Patrick Baudisch.
In Proceedings of CHI’17. Denver, CO, May 6 – 11, 2017. 

paper  video  acm dl

[7] Metamaterial Mechanisms. 

Alexandra Ion, Johannes Frohnhofen, Ludwig Wall, Robert Kovacs, Mirela Alistar, Jack Lindsay, Pedro Lopes, Hsiang-Ting Chen, and Patrick Baudisch.
In Proceedings of UIST’16. Tokyo, Japan, October 16 – 19, 2016.


paper  video  acm dl  github

Additional peer- reviewed publications

[6] TrussFormer: 3D Printing Large Kinetic Structures.

Robert Kovacs, Alexandra Ion, Pedro Lopes, Tim Oesterreich, Johannes Filter, Philip Otto, Tobias Arndt, Nico Ring, Melvin Witte, Anton Synytsia, and Patrick Baudisch
In Proceedings of UIST’18. Berlin, Germany, October 14 – 17, 2018. PDF

[5] Adding Force Feedback to Mixed Reality Experiences and Games using Electrical Muscle Stimulation.

Pedro Lopes, Sijing You, Alexandra Ion, and Patrick Baudisch.
In Proceedings of CHI’18. Montreal, Canada, April 21 – 26, 2018. PDF

[4] Skin drag displays: dragging a physical tactor across the user’s skin produces a stronger tactile stimulus than vibrotactile.

Alexandra Ion, Edward Wang, and Patrick Baudisch.
In Proceedings of CHI’15. Seoul, Korea, April 18 – 23, 2015. PDF

[3] Impacto: Simulating Physical Impact by Combining Tactile Stimulation with Electrical Muscle Stimulation.

Pedro Lopes, Alexandra Ion, Patrick Baudisch.
In Proceedings of UIST’15. Charlotte, NC, November 8 – 11, 2015. pp. 11-19. PDF

[2] Proprioceptive  Interaction.

Pedro Lopes, Alexandra Ion, Willi Mueller, Daniel Hoffmann, Patrik Jonell, Patrick Baudisch.
In Proceedings of CHI’15. Seuol, Korea, April 18 – 23, 2015. PDF

[1] Canyon: Providing location awareness of multiple moving objects in a detail view on large displays.

Alexandra Ion, Yu-Ling Chang, Michael Haller, Mark Hancock, Stacey Scott.
In Proceedings of CHI’13. Paris, France, April 27 – May 2, 2013. pp. 3149-3158. 


Other, non-peer-reviewed publications

[3] Interactive Metamaterials.

Alexandra Ion, Patrick Baudisch.
ACM Interactions, December 2019, Vol. 27. PDF

[2] Understanding mid-air hand gestures: A study of human preferences in usage of gesture types for HCI.

Roland Aigner, Daniel Wigdor, Hrvoje Benko, Michael Haller, David Lindbauer, Alexandra Ion, Shengdong Zhao, and Jeffrey Tzu Kwan Valino Koh. Technical Report MSR-TR-2012-111. 2012. PDF


[1] Using Your Own Muscles: Realistic physical experiences in VR.

Pedro Lopes, Alexandra Ion, Robert Kovacs.
XRDS, Fall 2015, Vol. 22. PDF

Service & volunteering

Program committee
CHI 2021 – subcommittee “Interaction Techniques, Devices & Modalities”
UIST 2020 – program committe
CHI 2020 – subcommittee “Interaction Techniques, Devices & Modalities”
CHI 2019 – subcommittee “Interaction Techniques, Devices & Modalities”
SIGGRAPH Asia 2019 – Technical briefs and posters

Organizing committee
UIST 2021 – demonstrations co-chair
UIST 2020 – demonstrations co-chair
UIST 2019 – sustainability co-chair
UIST 2018 – local arrangements co-chair
UIST 2017 – student volunteer co-chair
UIST 2016 – documentation chair

ACM CHI 2020 – 2014
ACM UIST 2020 – 2016
ACM TEI 2019, 2017
ACM DIS 2017, 2016
ACM Augmented Human 2016, 2015
IEEE World Haptics 2015, 2017
IEEE Haptics Symposium 2018
ACM SUI 2016

Elsevier Computers & Graphics 2018
Nature Scientific Reports 2018
Interacting with Computers 2014

Student volunteer: CHI 2016, UIST 2015, ITS 2014

Awards & honors

Selected for Rising Stars in EECS 2019.
Best visual communication award for TrussFormer. ACM CHI 2019 Video Showcase.
Scholarship for academic exchange (2018 DAAD FIT program, ~9 000 EUR)
My CHI 2015 talk is the example for a good presentation on the CHI conference website, 2016 – present
Best paper honorable mention award. ACM UIST 2016.
Best paper honorable mention award. ACM CHI 2013.
Nomination for national best master’s thesis award. 2012.

Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Award (Honorable Mention) 2018, for Adding Force Feedback to MR.
VIDA. Incentive Award 2016, for Ad Infinitum.
Bronze Cyber Lion, Cannes Lions 2010, for “Last call” (interactive movie)
Bronze Media Lion, Cannes Lions 2010, for “Last call” (interactive movie)
Bronze “Digital Media Craft”, ADC Germany 2010, Art directors club, for “Last call” (interactive movie)

Invited talks

[36] University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. March 30, 2020.
[35] University of Toronto, hosted by Tovi Grossman. March 26, 2020.
[34] Carnegie Mellon University, hosted by Scott Hudson. March 23, 2020.
[33] Boston University MechE, hosted by Alice White. March 17, 2020.
[32] Boston University CS, hosted by Emily Whiting. March 16, 2020.
[31] University of Chicago, hosted by Blase Ur. March 12, 2020.
[30] Aalto University, hosted by Elisa Mekler, Antti Oulasvirta. March 5, 2020.
[29] IST Austria, hosted by Bernd Bickel. March 2, 2020.
[28] Cornell University, hosted by Cheng Zhang, François Guimbretière. February 26, 2020.
[27] TU Delft CS, hosted by Elmar Eisemann. Februray 7, 2020.
[26] TU Delft PME, hosted by Just Herder. Februray 4, 2020.
[25] Aalto University, hosted by Antti Oulasvirta. December 17, 2019.
[24] University of Copenhagen, hosted by Kasper Hornbæk. December 16, 2019.
[23] TU Delft PME, hosted by Just Herder. November 14, 2019.
[22] University of Chicago, hosted by Pedro Lopes. October 29, 2019.
[21] University of Stuttgart, hosted by Achim Menges. September 16, 2019.
[20] Google (Mountain View), hosted by Alex Olwal. August 9, 2019.
[19] UC Berkeley, hosted by Björn Hartmann. August 8, 2019.
[18] Stanford, hosted by Sean Follmer. August 7, 2019.
[17] UCLA, hosted by Ankur Mehta. August 2, 2019.
[16] MIT Media Lab, hosted by Hiroshi Ishii. June 19, 2019.
[15] MIT CSAIL, hosted by Stefanie Mueller. June 19, 2019.
[14] ETH Zurich, PhD Seminar. October 26, 2018.
[13] University of Sussex, hosted by Diego Martínez & Sriram Subramanian. May 21, 2018.
[12] Université de Montréal, hosted by Bernhard Thomaszewski. April 27, 2018.
[11] IST Austria, hosted by Bernd Bickel. March 2, 2018.
[10] ETH Zürich, hosted by Olga Sorkine-Hornung. December 14, 2017.
[9]   SAP Walldorf, hosted by Andreas Polze & Bernd Welz. December 11, 2017.
[8]   TU Delft, hosted by Jouke Verlinden. December 4, 2017.
[7]   Aarhus University, hosted by Roman Rädle. October 5, 2017.
[6]   Technomania, hosted by The Danish Society of Engineers IDA. October 4, 2017
[5]   Driving 3D, hosted by The Danish Society of Engineers, IDA. September 29, 2017.
[4]   TEDx Poznan. April 8, 2017.
[3]   Singularity University Copenhagen, hosted by Märtha Rehnberg. December 14, 2016.
[2]   TU Berlin, hosted by Marc Alexa. 2016.
[1]   TU Berlin, hosted by Marc Alexa. 2015.