Karan Ahuja “Enabling Practical and Rich User Digitization”

Wednesday, March 15
11:00 am - 12:00 pm


Karan is a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, specializing in novel sensing and interaction techniques. In his thesis work, Karan focused on increasing the fidelity of user digitization technologies while retaining or improving user practicality, opening new paradigms in augmented and virtual reality, health monitoring, natural user interfaces, and context-aware computing. Many of his research projects have been open-sourced, deployed in-the-wild, licensed by tech companies, and even shipped as a product feature. To date, Karan has published over 25 papers at top venues. He is a Siebel Fellow and the Editor-in-Chief of ACM Crossroads (XRDS). His research has been widely covered in the media, including NBC Nightly News, Today Show, CNN, TechCrunch, Engadget, NPR, Fast Company, and Gizmodo among others.

A long-standing vision in computer science has been to evolve computing devices into proactive assistants, that enhance our productivity, health and wellness, and many other facets of our lives. User digitization is crucial in achieving this vision as it allows computers to intimately understand their users, capturing activity, pose, routine, and behavior. Today’s consumer devices – like smartphones and smartwatches – provide a glimpse of this potential, offering coarse digital representations of users with metrics such as step count, heart rate, and a handful of human activities like running and biking. Even these very low-dimensional representations are already bringing value to millions of people’s lives, but there is significant potential for improvement. In my research, I develop new algorithms and methods that allow consumer devices to capture rich, continuous representations of their users. Armed with such knowledge, our future devices could offer longitudinal health tracking, more productive work environments, full-body avatars in extended reality, and embodied telepresence experiences, to name just a few domains. Critically, these advances cannot come at the expense of user practicality, meaning my work must be strategic in developing new sensors and making use of existing sensors and edge computation.


  • Date: Wednesday, March 15
  • Time: 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
  • Category:
  • Location: 34-401A


  • Sam Madden