Ali Mazalek


Dr. Ali Mazalek is director of the Synaesthetic Media Lab, a playground where physical materials, analog sensors, and digital media happily co-exist and come together in novel ways to support creativity and expression across both science and art disciplines. As a digital media and human-computer interaction researcher, she has spent nearly 20 years trying to get digital technologies to fit better into her physical world and life, rather than letting them drag her into the pixelated depths of her computer screens. At the same time, she has a deep interest in how computational media can support and enhance creative practices and processes, supporting new forms of expression and new ways of thinking and learning. She is a Canada Research Chair in Digital Media and Innovation and Associate Professor in the RTA School of Media at Ryerson University. She received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the MIT Media Lab and a Hon. B.Sc. in computer science and mathematics from the University of Toronto. She is a member of the inaugural cohort of the Royal Society of Canada's College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.


Ryerson University



Tangible Tensors (TTs)

Tangible MultiVariate Modeling and Visualization (T-MV^2)

Tangible Biological Networks (TBNets)

RE/Toolkit: Developing Responsive And Interactive Environments

Tangible and Embodied Digital Storytelling

Tangible mtDNA


Real Life Sims


Virtual WindChime

Teaching Table






Malleable Screens

BioBrowser: bug crawl



TViews Table






Moons Over You



Embodied Comics


Optical Chess


Tangible Tracking Table



Tangible Synergetic Domes

emBodied Digital Creativity

Universal Threshold Object


Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality Storytelling

SayWhyPoll & Tangible Anchoring

Sparse Tangibles

Sensory and Interactive Museums



2017 - Tangible mtDNA: A Tangible Tabletop System for Exploring Genetic Mutations on Mitochondrial DNA Cancer Data

2017 - Extending the Design Space of Tangible Objects via Low-Resolution Edge Displays

2016 - Beyond Vaporware: Considerations for Meaningful Design with Smell

2016 - Exploring Genetic Mutations on Mitochondrial DNA Cancer Data with Interactive Tabletops and Active Tangibles

2016 - Actibles: Open Source Active Tangibles

2016 - Towards a Framework for Tangible Narratives

2016 - Active Pathways: Using Active Tangibles and Interactive Tabletops for Collaborative Modeling in Systems Biology

2016 - Grasping Cultural Context through Multisensory Interactions

2016 - Sparse Tangibles: Collaborative Exploration of Gene Networks using Active Tangibles and Interactive Tabletops

2016 - ROSS Toolkit: An Infrastructure and API for Building Interactive Environments

2016 - Developing Responsive and Interactive Environments with the ROSS Toolkit

2016 - Sensing context: Reflexive design principles for intersensory museum interactions

2016 - Sensing History: Contextualizing Artifacts with Sensory Interactions and Narrative Design

2015 - Mapping Place: Supporting Cultural Learning through a Lukasa-inspired Tangible Tabletop Museum Exhibit

2015 - Responsive Objects, Surfaces and Spaces (ROSS): Framework for Simplifying Cross-Device Communication

2014 - Tangible Meets Gestural: Gesture Based Interaction with Active Tokens

2014 - Storied Numbers: supporting media-rich data storytelling for television

2014 - SciSketch: A Tabletop Collaborative Sketching System

2014 - Exploring the Design Space of Gestural Interaction with Active Tokens through User-Defined Gestures

2013 - Reach across the boundary: evidence of physical tool appropriation following virtual practice

2013 - Don't Open That Door: designing gestural interactions for interactive narratives

2013 - From Big Data to Insights: opportunities and challenges for TEI in genomics

2013 - Lasting Impression: Interaction With Embodied Puppet Leads to Changes in the Way People Draw Sketches

2013 - Tangible Synergetic Domes

2013 - Recognizing Your Self in Virtual Avatars

2013 - Moving Digital Puppets

2012 - A Nested API Structure to Simplify Cross-Device Communication

2011 - Grasping gestures: Gesturing with physical artifacts

2011 - Tangible navigation and object manipulation in virtual environments

2011 - I'm in the game: embodied puppet interface improves avatar control

2011 - SketchTop: design collaboration on a multi-touch tabletop

2011 - One-Way Pseudo Transparent Display

2011 - Organic UIs and Cross-Reality Spaces

2011 - Creativity in Software Development in an Academic Research Lab

2011 - Kinesthetic Pathways: A Tabletop Visualization to Support Discovery in Systems Biology

2011 - Pictures at an Exhibition: A Physical/Digital Puppetry Performance Piece

2011 - A Framework Interweaving Tangible Objects, Surfaces and Spaces

2010 - PuzzleTale: A Tangible Puzzle Game for Interactive Storytelling

2010 - Space Matters: Physical-Digital and Physical-Virtual Codesign in inSpace

2010 - Recognizing Self in Puppet Controlled Virtual Avatars

2010 - Ideomotor design: Using common coding theory to derive novel video game interactions

2010 - PuzzleTale: A Tangible Puzzle Game for Interactive Storytelling

2010 - Tangible Anchoring: Grasping News and Public Opinion

2009 - KinoPuzzle: Grasping Realities through Tangible Tabletop Documentaries

2009 - Architales: physical/digital co-design of an interactive story table

2009 - Giving your self to the game: transferring a player's own movements to avatars using tangible interfaces

2009 - Framing Tangible Interaction Frameworks

2008 - WiiArts: Creating collaborative art experience with WiiRemote interaction

2008 - Tangible Tracking Table: an interactive tabletop display

2008 - RENATI: Recontextualizing Narratives for Tangible Interfaces

2008 - inSpace: Co-Designing the Physical and Digital Environment to Support Workplace Collaboration

2008 - TEI Goes On: Tangible and Embedded Interaction

2008 - Moons over you: the poetic space of virtual and real

2008 - Cross-being: dancer (the spinning screen)

2008 - Cross-Being: dancer (the spinning screen)

2008 - Experiences on the Boundaries: Screens In Between

2008 - Flora Electronica: a media performance space across the physical and virtual worlds

2008 - RENATI: recontextualizing narratives for tangible interfaces

2008 - Turning a page on the digital annotation of physical books

2008 - The TViews Table Role-Playing Game

2008 - Murmur: Kinetic Relief Sculpture, Multi-Sensory Display, Listening Machine

2008 - Architales: physical/digital co-design of an interactive story table

2007 - Tangible Comics: A Performance Space with Full-body Interaction

2007 - WikiTUI: Leaving Digital Traces in Physical Books

2007 - The Spinning Screen: A Movable Experience Between Virtual and Real

2007 - The TViews Table Role-Playing Game

2007 - WikiTUI

2007 - Teaching Table: A tangible mentor for pre-K math education

2007 - An Acoustic Position Sensing System for Large Scale Interactive Displays

2007 - Tangible Play: Research and Design for Tangible and Tabletop Games

2007 - The TViews Table in the Home

2007 - Tilting Table: A moveable screen

2007 - The TViews Table for Storytelling and Gameplay

2007 - Wearable RFID for Play

2007 - Shadow Box: an interactive learning toy for children

2007 - Tangible Interfaces for Real-Time 3D Virtual Environments

2006 - Tangible Toolkits: Integrating Application Development across Diverse Multi-User and Tangible Interaction Platforms

2006 - TViews: An Extensible Architecture for Multiuser Digital Media Tables

2006 - traces::

2006 - Tangible Comics: A Narrative Performance Using Computer Vision