Portrait of Violet Whitney

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/ Visiting Faculty,

Violet Whitney

Visiting Assistant Professor

Violet is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia GSAPP where she teaches tangible and spatial computing courses. She teaches physical computing and product design courses in the University of Michigan’s Urban Technology program and the University of Pennsylvania’s Integrated Product Design program. Outside of academia, she co-leads a group called Architechie, a meetup network for urban tech.

Her research explores the spatial, social, and tangible potential of digital connectivity, providing an alternative to the individualist and de-contextualized nature of the dominant product design discourse. Today smart-home products, hybrid work, and even Yelp choreograph human movement and societal behaviors. By applying emerging technologies (ambient computing, LLMs, computer vision, and projection mapping) she creates user experiences that are beyond the screen, spatial, and grounded in our physical environment.

Violet has been a Director of Product and an Associate Director of Design at Sidewalk Labs, the Google initiative focused on building future cities. There she started Delve, an AI product for neighborhood development (now part of Google Maps), developed computer vision applications for pedestrian tracking, and worked with teams on leveraging LLMs for urban-scale problems.