We are a research group at the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. We study and design interactive technologies, games, and social computing systems to empower transformative experiences for individuals and their communities. Our cross-disciplinary approach blends theories and methods from psychology, design, and computer science. We seek to reimagine technologies and systems that promote empathy, self-expression, agency, and joy, especially for historically marginalized groups. We believe that new technologies, when designed with both mind and heart, can improve communication, collaboration, and conscientiousness. Playful technologies engage hearts and minds, preserve a sense of delight, and afford new ways of expressing ourselves and interacting with others.
Geoff Kaufman is the founder of the eHeart Lab and an Assistant Professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon. He holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in social psychology from Ohio State University, and a B.A. in psychology from Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to joining the faculty in the HCII in 2015, Geoff was a postdoctoral researcher at Tiltfactor, a game design and research laboratory at Dartmouth College. His primary research focuses on how experience-taking - the mental simulation of characters experiences in fictional narratives, virtual worlds, or games - can change individuals' self-concepts, attitudes, behaviors, and emotions. This work has led to new insights regarding user-specific, design-specific, and situational variables that increase the impact of stories, games, and mediated interactions, and a set of empirically validated techniques and best practices for the creation of playful interventions for social change. His personal 500+ board game collection both informs and provides a regular distraction from his academic pursuits.
Hana is a Special Faculty Instructor in the School of Computer Science with a research focus on trust and safety issues. Her current work explores interventions for combating the proliferation of hate online. Previously, she completed her Masters and PhD degrees at CMU and worked for the U.S. Department of Defense.
Adinawa's current work seeks to understand how immigrant learners approach language learning in order to collaboratively develop tools that balance empowerment and affirmed identity, emphasize cultural and community assets, and align with the context in which these individuals experience language exchanges.
Morgan works on the design and evaluation of transformational game experiences. Her current research seeks to empower members of historically marginalized communities. In the past, she was a privacy researcher and earned a BA from Bard College. She loves to sing and spend time on skateboards and slacklines!
Lisa's work centers on understanding experiences minoritized communities face when interacting with technology and co-designing with these communities to generate solutions. Her current work aims to understand how educators and creators utilize technology to teach about racially sensitive topics. Lisa graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in computer science. In her free time she enjoys making Spotify playlists, watching reality TV and riding her bike!"
Pranav combines system-building, empirical methods, and theoretical approaches to study, design and build design participation architectures for internet-based collaboration efforts like Wikipedia and Open source projects. By doing so, he seek to understand how we might architect production efforts that become arenas for collective creativity, self-development, and co-creation and sharing of value. He graduated from IIT Kharagpur with a B.Tech and M.Tech in Electrical Engineering. Outside of work, he likes running, boardgames, and good satire.
Erica is an ARCS Scholar, Generation Google Women in Gaming Scholar, and PhD Student at the CTP and HCII of CMU. She studies how digital games and immersive technology experiences can be designed to uplift marginalized communities by centering their joy, rest, and healing. When she's not doing research or playing games, she is going on adventures with her dog and doing her best on a skateboard.
Kimi studies users' psychological and behavioral responses to automated bias. Her current work aims to measure and mitigate harms that arise from language technology. She earned her B.A. from Columbia University, Barnard College. Outside of the lab, she loves teaching cooking class, practicing yoga, and writing.
Indy is a Human-Canine Interaction PhD student at eHeart. He studies pawsitive strategies for gifting joy, rest, and healing to all living beings via play. He is a highly decorated Best Boy. When he is not doing research, Indy is making the most of life with his favorite human research collaborator Erica.
Baxter is a proud graduate of Meow.I.T. and an expert in fostering meaningful human-cat interactions. In his spare time, he enjoys watching tennis, spending quality time with his catnip banana, and running up and down the stairs of his house (often at odd hours of the night) to stay active and alert.
Roger is an alum of Carnegie Meowin’ and a true meditation master, having perfected the ability to achieve zen-like states (especially when staring out at the backyard). His hobbies include cabinet climbing and rhythmic gymnastics, and he aspires to one day reach the heights of the ivory cat tower.
Erica Principe Cruz, Jessica Hammer, Geoff Kaufman
We are iteratively prototyping a virtual immersive gallery at the Andy Warhol Museum Pop District, informed by the community-centric vision of marginalized Pittsburgh artists. Through this we explore how XR technologies can transform the future of art spaces in the emerging metaverse and how they can support new forms of communal joy, e.g. enjoying art across realities. As the metaverse emerges, we have the unique opportunity to shape spaces for art in ways that are only possible with XR, with a special emphasis on centering community and marginalized individuals in their design, development, and evaluation. Starting here, we can work together towards a more inclusive metaverse that includes uplifting marginalized artists and their work as a standard.
Erica Principe Cruz, Jessica Hammer, Geoff Kaufman
Counterspace is an exploratory research project that explores how to create digital games that function as counterspaces for Black, Indigenous, and other Women of Color (BIWOC) studying STEM. BIWOC are underrepresented in STEM, and as such, they often feel a weaker sense of belonging and face higher rates of attrition. This project aims to help combat dominant STEM culture by playfully cultivating a sense of belonging and persistence through digital game design and playful interactions.
Lisa Egede, Dr. Denae Ford Robinson, Dr. Brittany Johnson, Dr. Christina Harrington, Leslie Coney
The purpose of this project is to understand how Black and ally software developers, technologists, and community organizers have used, created, or curated resources to support the experiences of Black people. By using a mixed methodology approach of semi-structured interviews, surveys, and quantitative analysis, we seek to understand the motivations behind building these resources and tools, its impact on the community, and where there may be opportunities for how this specific group can be supported. Our goal is to understand and effectively communicate the impact this group of technologists has had on society.
Hana Habib, Likhitha Chintareddy, Geoff Kaufman
We are evaluating values-based interventions as a means of reducing prejudicial and hateful speech in online discourse.
Shreya Bali, Pranav Khadpe, Geoff Kaufman, Chinmay Kulkarni
Nooks is a Slack App designed to help people form lasting connections, across their organization. Nooks achieves this by allowing people to "bump into" like-minded people regularly, by providing them tools to spark and join conversations around topics of shared interested
Kimi Wenzel and Geoff Kaufman
Language technologies have demonstrated a consistent bias against users of various vernaculars and accents. While some researchers are working to improve the diversity of the datasets that language models are trained on, and others are working to improve language models themselves, we take a different approach and focus on embedding healing and uplifting designs into langauge technology interfaces.