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Uni welcomes world leader in human-computer interaction

University of Auckland welcomes world leader in human-computer interaction

One of the world’s emerging leaders in creating human-computer interfaces will join the University of Auckland’s Bioengineering Institute to further his innovative research.

The University is delighted to welcome its first appointee under the Government’s Entrepreneurial Universities programme, Dr Suranga Nanayakkara, following today’s announcement of the first round of appointments.

The programme evolved from an initial proposal from the University of Auckland to the Hon. Steven Joyce (former Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment) and the Tertiary Education Commission in late 2015.

One of two Entrepreneurial Universities appointments announced today, Dr Nanayakkara will join the Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI) in early 2018, along with members of his research team, to continue his innovative research in human-computer interaction.

Deputy-Vice Chancellor (Research), Professor Jim Metson says: “We are delighted to welcome Dr Nanayakkara to the University. He is an outstanding young researcher who is well aligned with the ambitions of this Government-University partnership. The appointment further strengthens our research and innovation capabilities, and contributes to both increasing our interaction with the innovation sector and providing a stimulating learning environment for our students.”

A top ten Asia-Pacific Innovator Under 35 (MIT Technology Review, 2014), Dr Nanayakkara is recognised as one of the world’s emerging leaders in creating enabling human-computer interfaces.

His work includes the development of wearable and sensory devices that can enable the vision- or hearing-impaired to perceive and make sense of their environment. His innovations include FingerReader, HapticChair, MuSS-Bits and StickEar.

Since 2011, Dr Nanayakkara has been based at the Engineering Product Development Pillar at Singapore University of Technology and Design. Before that he was a Postdoctoral Associate at the Fluid Interfaces group, MIT Media Lab.

Dr Nanayakkara founded the Augmented Human Lab (AHLab) in 2011 to explore ways of creating ‘enabling’ technologies and devices to enhance the sensory and cognitive abilities of humans.

He will be joined in Auckland by members of his AHLab team. Together they will continue their work in developing and commercialising assistive and rehabilitative technologies, further strengthening the University’s innovation capabilities and impact.

The Entrepreneurial Universities announcement comes after the recent opening of the University of Auckland’s new innovation hub and maker space – UnleashSpace - and the formation of New Zealand’s first student-led investment committee, Momentum, through Return on Science (a national research commercialisation programme that delivers new research to market from universities, research institutions, and private companies).

The University of Auckland is committed to growing New Zealand’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, building on its innovative researcher community with support from the Entrepreneurial Universities programme, enabling its 10,000 graduates each year as future entrepreneurs and employees, and working with New Zealand businesses helping them to grow.

ENDS

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