Nurit Kirshenbaum

Welcome to my page! My name is Nurit Kirshenbaum, and I'm a graduate student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in the department of Information and Computer Science. I am interested in Human Computer Interaction and, more specifically, the design of TUI (Tangible User Interface) systems. My advisor is Prof. Scott Robertson and I am part of the HICHI lab. I currently work as a Research Assistant at the Laboratory of Advanced Visualizations and Applications under Prof. Jason Leigh.

This webpage showcases some of the work I've done as part of my degrees, research, or fun. If you would like to provide any feedback about my work, please contact me via nuritk <at> hawaii <dot> edu.

My updated CV is here.

Photo of Nurit Kirshenbaum

Statement of Purpose

In my 39 years I have seen many changes in the world of technology. When I was a child, we used the PC to write BASIC programs and boasted state-of-the-art 16 color displays. By the time I was 20, the digital world was completely different. At that time, the dot com craze was surging only to be swiftly popped. Leaps in technology happen as computer scientists and engineers push forward for faster, better, cheaper technology. Then social networks emerged, iPods and iPhones, fast streaming of data, and the way we interact with our technology changed again from a person sitting in front of a PC to computer screens all around us. If there is one thing I can predict about the future of technology, is that I can't predict the future of technology. I get surprised every time.

However, it is my personal goal to help stir the future of technology by designing and evaluating novel interactions. I am a Human Computer Interaction researcher, and I want to help people do more things, do them better, and do them with ease. No one can tell for certain why one device succeeds while others fail, there is more to it than good design and usability. It is still worthwhile to develop new devices and bring them to a point where they are ready to stand the trial of truth in the technology market, and that requires a lot of work.

I was personally drawn to bendable devices and intend to develop a system of bendable interactive playing cards called PEPA (Paperlike Entertainment Platform Agents). Bendable devices are a perfect example of easy to use technology (bend sensors are inexpensive and simple) that hasn't been incorporated so far into popular products. In my opinion, there are two main problems with bend gestures: first, it is not yet clear when, where, and if it is more convenient than touch (or any other) gesture, and, second, even if we can find an application where bends are superior to other gestures, there is no consensus on how to work with bend events. This is the focus point of my research - I have started and intend to continue looking into ways to synthesize different approaches to bend events into one model, and create an API that simplifies programming applications for bend gestures. I think that interactive playing cards can be a good testbench application for bend gestures, since a new type of platform is better suited to introduce new interaction styles than a known platform (like personal devices).

More recently, as part of my current work in the LAVA lab I started to look at more ways to incorporate displays in everyday environment, either via large displays or augmented reality. I hope to continue in the future in a research career and to constantly expand the novel interactions in my arsenal, so I can combine them in interesting ways that will excite people.

I am keenly interested in Computer Science education and try to follow research in this area. I strongly believe that students don't need technical background to succeed in CS, in fact, varied backgrounds can be beneficial - there is room for a lot more diversity in Computer Science research and practice. I had some experience with students with no prior programming exposure on the West Oahu campus. My approach was to mix non-technical topics (user centered design, interface sketching) with the programming portion, and to assign them projects that are open enough for them to focus on whatever they like, yet are somewhat scaffolded (for those who wanted the structure). I will note that I don't think that the skill of writing code is sufficient for a successful CS students, students need to develop their abstract thinking about computational problems. In line with that point of view, I have worked on Set&Motion which illustrates state machines.

Selected Videos

Pepa Deck - Interactive Cards

I am currently working on a set of interactive playing cards. This video presents the first prototype of the cards. Information about this project will be collected in the Pepa deck page.


Set&Motion is an authoring tool for sensors/actuators based interactive shows. The authoring tool uses state machines as a form of programming the show, thus hoping to help users understand and practice this form of abstraction. This video was made for a demo in UIST 2015. Information about this project will be collected in the Set&Motion page.

Logic gates video

As part of a flash animation class while working on my Master's in Interactive Media, I've made this explanatory video about logic gates. There was also an accompanying logic gates flash game that no longer exists. The video has gained some popularity (with over 100K views) which makes me wonder if I should make more basic EE videos.

Other Work

Some other work is discussed in the Courses tab. Most of the work done for my Master's in Interactive Media is no longer on the web and included some flash games, user-centered design documents, a wordpress template, some writing, and some videos (the publicly available videos are found on my youTube channel).