Alexa Siu. click for home.


I am currently a fifth year PhD student at Stanford University in the shape lab, advised by Prof. Sean Follmer. My research interests are in the use of tangible interfaces to support design. In particular, I am interested in advancing accessible Making for people with visual impairments.

Through a combination of iterative prototyping and human centered design, I am developing workflows to support people with visual impairments in designing 3D models and prototyping with electronics. Through more controlled studies, I look to understand human perception to inform the design of these new interfaces.

See a complete list of my publications here.

image of the cad workflow showing a cup script, a cup rendered in a 2.5D shape display, and a cup 3D printed

Towards An Accessible CAD Workflow

Existing computer-aided design (CAD) tools that allow authoring and editing of 3D models are mostly visually reliant and limit access for people who are blind or visually impaired. We propose an accessible CAD workflow where 3D models are generated through OpenSCAD, a script-based 3D modeling tool, and rendered at interactive speeds in an actuated 2.5D shape display.

Recent Publication: A. F. Siu, S. Kim, J. A. Miele, and S. Follmer. 2019. shapeCAD: An Accessible 3D Modelling Workflow for the Blind and Visually-Impaired Via 2.5D Tactile Shape Displays. In Proceedings of the 21stInternational ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS ’19). ACM, New York, NY, USA. DOI: Best Paper Nominee



A compact, high-resolution mobile tabletop shape display for tangible and haptic interaction. We explore interactions enabled by 2D spatial manipulation and self-actuation of a tabletop.

Recent Publications: A. F. Siu, E. J. Gonzalez, S. Yuan, J. Ginsberg, and S. Follmer.2018. shapeShift: 2D Spatial Manipulation and Self-Actuation of Tabletop Shape Displays for Tangible and Haptic Interaction. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ‘18). ACM, New York, NY, USA. DOI:

Investigating Tangible Collaboration for Design Towards Augmented Physical Telepresence

Exploration of shared workspaces using mixed reality physical embodiment.


Publications: A. F. Siu, S. Yuan, H. Pham, E. Gonzalez, L. H. Kim, M. Le Goc, S. Follmer. (2018). Investigating Tangible Collaboration for Design Towards Augmented Physical Telepresence. In: Plattner H., Meinel C., Leifer L. (eds) Design Thinking Research. Understanding Innovation. Springer, Cham

Internship Research

Microsoft Research (MSR) - Ability Team

June 2019 - Present
Redmond, Washington
Mentor: Ed Cutrell

Logo for the MSR Ability Team logo. Consists of icons of sign language and below their equivalent braille character.

How might virtual reality (VR) aid a blind person in familiarization with an unexplored space? Creating immersive VR experiences that are accessible to blind people with the goal of facilitating orientation and mobility training.

HP Labs

June 2018 - September 2018
HP Labs, Palo Alto, CA
Manager: Alex Thayer, Tico Ballagas

Investigated how we might leverage 3D printed auxetic properties to design parts with embedded sensing and interactivity.

Undergraduate Research

This is a summary of some of the work I did throughout my undergraduate studies.


June/2014 - August/2014
Stanford University, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
PI: Allison Okamura, PhD.

CHARM Lab Project

Characterizing the effect of time delay and low-pass filtering on human perception of stiffness and damping

Designed and programmed a user study to characterize the effect of time delay and low-pass filtering on human perception of stiffness and damping in haptic displays.

Evaluated the closed-loop accuracy in bilateral teleoperation and impedance-type kinesthetic haptic displays in terms of effective impedances.


Designed a variable stiffness and damping environment to interact with the Phantom Premium 1.5 robots in order to analyze the performance of a bilateral teleoperator.

Publications: N. Colonnese, A. F. Siu, C. M. Abbott and A. M. Okamura (2015) Rendered and Characterized Closed-loop Accuracy of Impedance-type Haptic Displays. IEEE Transactions on Haptics, 8(4):434-446.

Lam Lab

Oct/2012 - May/2015
Georgia Tech Dept. of Biomedical Engineering and Emory University School of Medicine
PI: Wilbur Lam, MD., PhD.

Lam Lab Project

Investigated the interaction of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) and whole blood in relation to thrombosis.

Developed a children’s educational outreach program (BME HealthReach) to implement at hospitals using the patient’s disease as a leverage to teach concepts in STEM.

Assisted in validation through clinical trials and prototyping of an anemia diagnostic device (AnemoCheck) at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Publications: E. A. Tyburski, ..., A. F. Siu, et. al. (2014). Disposable platform provides visual and color-based point-of-care anemia self-testing. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 124(10), 4387–4394.