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SCS Takes Show on the Road at SXSW

Laura KellyFriday, March 8, 2019

Lining Yao is one of three members of the SCS community who will share their work at South by Southwest.

Carnegie Mellon University students, faculty and alumni will be among the thousands descending onto Austin, Texas, for South by Southwest (SXSW), and the School of Computer Science will be well represented among its cohort.

John Zimmerman, the Tang Family Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Human Computer Interaction, will discuss efforts to improve accessibility to public transit for persons with disabilities as part of the panel on "Accessible Transportation for All" from on Tuesday, March 12.

"Technology is making it more and more possible," Zimmerman said. "There's particularly a lot of work in the space of universal design. Can you make designs that privilege people who have higher needs, but the solutions benefit all riders?"

Lining Yao, an assistant professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute, will demonstrate her research during the session "Morphing Into the Future: 'Shapeshifter' Materials," also on March 12. Yao's research produces programmable materials that change shapes. Yao gave the example of pasta that can ship flat and takes its shape in boiling water.

"You can save almost 62 percent of packaging space for macaroni if you pack them flat," Yao said. "You can imagine that food could not only be sold in supermarkets, but also could be rapidly deployed to disaster sites and even in the future go on space travel. Space saving becomes an even more important issue when we talk about eating in a space ship that has to travel three years going to Mars."

Christoph Mertz, a principal project scientist in the Robotics Institute, also serves as the chief scientist of RoadBotics, a company that uses artificial intelligence and smartphones to monitor roads to help governments and engineering firms make data-driven decisions. RoadBotics is a finalist in the SXSW Pitch competition, taking place Sunday, March 10.

Founded in 1987, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film and music industries. The event also features sessions, showcases, screenings, exhibitions and a variety of networking opportunities. For more about CMU's participation in SXSW, read the full news story. You can also follow #CMUatSXSW on social media for the latest updates.

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