Ahlquist Showcased at SXSW Interactive 2016

Ahlquist Showcased at SXSW Interactive 2016

Assistant Professor of Architecture Sean Ahlquist collaborated with David Chesney of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, Sile O’Modhrain from the School of Music and experts in the field of autism therapy on a multidisciplinary project entitled Social Sensory Surfaces addressing the challenges that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder face. This study, focused on five-year-old Ara, sought a solution to facilitate motor control, social interaction and communication in learning environments for children with ASD. Their study is sponsored by the University of Michigan, Taubman College, and the College of Engineering. It will be showcased at the 23rd annual SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas from March 11-15, 2016. 

Ahlquist and Chesney propose a touch-sensitive “coloring book” that includes four components: highly elastic CNC-knitted textile, a projector, a Microsoft Kinect, and custom-made software. This unique design caters to the neurological and physiological strengths of children with ASD, providing an enhanced multi-sensory experience.

Students Oliver Popadich and Taylor Boes, who were involved in the development of this work, will be at the U-M booth along with Professor Ahlquist showcasing the technology. More information on their exhibit at SXSW can be found in this article from Michigan News.

The SXSW Interactive Festival is a five-day event featuring presentations and panels from the brightest minds in emerging technology. The festival provides a forum for networking and the discovery of the best new websites, video games and startup ideas that the community has to offer. 

For more information on SXSW Interactive, visit:

View more images from Ahlquist’s Social Sensory Surfaces project in the 2015 Research Through Making album on Flickr:

Research Through Making - 2015

Faculty: Sean Ahlquist ,