Published: Oct. 4, 2018

Research Showcase logo

Tattoos that change color in sunlight, control systems that help robots anticipate your needs, integrating circuits into smart textiles: these were just a few of the projects demonstrated at ATLAS Institute's Second Annual Research Showcase, held in partnership with CU Boulder’s Research & Innovation Week.

The Oct. 19 showcase featured laboratory and studio tours, demos and poster presentations, as well as opportunities to connect with the institute's thriving community of creative technologists, inventors and artists working across and between multiple disciplines. Showcase visitors explored work in human-robot interaction, tech tattoos, tangible computer interfaces, computer science education, smart textiles and much more. 

ATLAS Institute graduate student Peter Gyory, right, demonstrates the new 3D design platform he is developing with THING Lab Director Daniel Leithinger.

ATLAS Institute graduate student Peter Gyory, right, demonstrates a new 3D design platform he is developing with THING Lab Director Daniel Leithinger (video). The technology, on display for the showcase, enables the construction and adaptation of prototypes using virtual reality and real objects. (Cliff Grassmick / Daily Camera Staff Photographer)

Missed this year's Research Showcase? Below are some of the projects featured in this year's showcase:

  • TECH TATTOOS: Research aimed at using nano-engineered particles as tattoo ink to permanently embed useful technologies in the skin. The researchers are exploring “tech tattoos” as a way to power biomedical devices and wearable technologies, monitor and diagnose health issues, and augment human sensing and self-expression.  
  • ALPACA:  The Automated Learning and Prototyping for Athletics and Creative Activity with Machine Learning toolkit is used to create custom models of gesture and other embodied actions that could be used, for instance, to help athletes practice their golf-chipping skills. 
  • AdaCAD:  A web application to aid in the design of smart textiles, including features that help the user define large patterns, predict connectivity and visualize embedded circuits.


Part of CU Boulder’s College of Engineering & Applied Science, ATLAS is an interdisciplinary institute for radical creativity and invention. The institute has rapidly expanded its research activities over the last four years, attracting talented new faculty members and students, and establishing new research labs and studios. If you haven't dropped in lately, it's time you stopped by! 

Participating ATLAS labs: 

Director: Ellen Do
A Creativity Machine Environment Lab works on computational tools for design, especially sketching, creativity and design cognition, including creativity support tools and design studies, tangible and embedded interaction and, most recently, computing for health and wellness. 

Blow Things Up (BTU) Lab 
Director: Alicia Gibb
The BTU Lab is a collaborative hackerspace supporting fabrication, experimentation and design. While not a research lab, it’s a vibrant and dynamic hub for the ATLAS Institute student community, fostering a generation of creative technologists and inventors.

Director: Dan Szafir
The Interactive Robotics and Novel Technologies Lab explores human-centered principles for novel sensing, interactive and robotic technologies. Blending techniques from computer science, design, engineering and the social sciences, the lab creates technologies that enable more nuanced and intuitive forms of robotic assistance in collaborative work, education and space exploration.

Laboratory for Emergent Nanomaterials 
Director: Carson Bruns
The Emergent Nanomaterials Lab manipulates matter on the smallest of scales to create materials with emergent properties, characterized by novel and sometimes surprising features arising from the interactions of multiple bodies. By synthesizing, assembling, combining, and organizing nanoscale building blocks, researchers design technologies that enhance the quality of human lives in the domains of health, energy, sensory augmentation and self-expression.

Laboratory for Playful Computation (LPC) 
Director: Ben Shapiro
The Laboratory for Playful Computation designs new programmable technologies and playful experiences to empower young people to learn through creative design.

Director: Daniel Leithinger
The Transformative Human Interfaces for the Next Generation (THING) Lab employs shape-changing materials, novel sensors and unique design methods to make digital information tangible, paving the way for a new generation of interactivity that goes beyond sight and sound.

Director: Joel Swanson
Joel Swanson is an artist and designer who explores how technology influences and shapes language. 

Unstable Design Lab  
Director: Laura Devendorf
The Unstable Design Lab interweaves anthropology, art, design and engineering to imagine the future of human-technology relationships. We explore how instability—the idea that technology may challenge us, or not work as we expect—can be embraced through design to live more humanely, creatively and sustainably with technology.