My research interests are primarily in the fields of Human-Computer Interaction and Accessibility. Through a combination of iterative prototyping and human centered design, I am developing workflows to support spatial information access for people who are blind. 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

'An image of the wristworn Haptic Pivot device used in Virtual Reality to catch an apple falling from a tree. The device is worn by a user and renders the haptic sensation of an object falling into the users hand.'

Haptic PIVOT: On-Demand Handhelds in VR

Robert Kovacs, Eyal Ofek, Mar Gonzalez Franco, Alexa F. Siu, Sebastian Marwecki, Christian Holz, Mike Sinclair

PIVOT is a wrist-worn haptic device that renders virtual objects into the user’s hand on demand. Its simple design comprises a single actuated joint that pivots a haptic handle into and out of the user’s hand, rendering the haptic sensations of grasping, catching, or throwing an object – anywhere in space .

'Three images. The first shows a person wearing the  prototype of a white cane VR controller. The second shows  the first-person view that the person would see if they were  wearing a head-mounted display in VR. The last shows the  overhead view of the map of a virtual environment along  with the position of the user.'

Virtual Reality Without Vision: A Haptic and Auditory White Cane to Navigate Complex Virtual Worlds

Alexa F. Siu, Mike Sinclair, Robert Kovacs, Christian Holz, Eyal Ofek, Edward Cutrell

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

Three images representing the CAD workflow showing  a script for rendering a 3D model of a cup, a cup rendered in a 2.5D shape display, and a cup 3D printed

shapeCAD: An Accessible 3D Modelling Workflow for the Blind and Visually-Impaired Via 2.5D Shape Displays

Alexa F. Siu, Son Kim, Joshua A. Miele, Sean Follmer

We describe our participatory design process towards designing an accessible 3D modelling workflow for the blind and visually-impaired. We discuss interactions that enable blind users to design, program, and create using a 2.5D interactive shape display.

A 2.5 shape display rendering a raised surface  with a hand touching the top.

shapeShift: A Mobile Tabletop Shape Display for Tangible and Haptic Interaction

Alexa F. Siu, Eric J. Gonzalez, Shenli Yuan, Jason B. Ginsberg, Sean Follmer

We explore interactions enabled by 2D spatial manipulation and self-actuation of a mobile tabletop shape display (e.g. manipulating spatial-aware content, an encountered-type haptic device, etc). We present the design of a novel open-source shape display platoform called shapeShift.

Previous Work

sketch of two users wearing a hololens and interacting  with a shape display remotely.

Investigating Tangible Collaboration for Design Towards Augmented Physical Telepresence

Alexa F. Siu, Shenli Yuan, Hieu Pham, Eric Gonzalez, Lawrence H. Kim, Mathieu Le Goc, Sean Follmer (2017)

Exploration of shared workspaces using mixed reality physical embodiment.

Two 3D printed bears with a soft belly. A finger is pressing on  one of them and a heart lights up from inside the bear.

An Exploration of 3D-Printed Metamaterial Structures

Jiwon Jun, Alexa F. Siu (2019)

Investigating how we might leverage 3D printed auxetic properties to design parts with embedded sensing and interactivity using HP Inc's novel multi jet fusion 3D printer.

A user wearing a HoloLens inserting a needle into phantom tissue.

Holoneedle: augmented reality guidance system for needle placement investigating the advantages of three-dimensional needle shape reconstruction

Michael A. Lin. Alexa F. Siu, Jung Hwa Bae, Mark R. Cutkosky, Daniel L Bruce (2018)

An augmented reality guidance system for needle placement in tissue using needle shape reconstruction and sensing.

Sketch of a hand manipulating a haptic handle and  showing a feedback loop.

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

Nicholas Colonnese, Alexa F. Siu, Caroline M. Abbott, Allison M. Okamura (2014-2015)

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

A microscopic image of DNA  that has the appearance of a cobweb and is coming out from a round cell.

Lam Lab


Investigated the interaction of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) and whole blood in thrombosis. Developed a children's educational outreach program (BME HealthReach) to implement at hospitals.