Research At Scale - 2024


by Cedric Honnet

Dec. 9, 2023

A 1-month residency in Shenzhen to scale research with mass manufacturing for affordability or unprecedented magnitudes.

The 10 research residents:

Andres Rico (City Science), Cathy Fang (Fluid Interfaces), Cedric Honnet (Responsive Environments & CSAIL), David Preiss (CBA), Ganit Goldstein (Tangible Media & Architecture), Hila Mor (Tangible Media & Berkeley), Jack Forman (Tangible Media & CBA), Leo McElroy (CBA), Martin Nisser (CSAIL), Yunyi Zhu (CSAIL).

Residents reports:


The residency started with the Scalable HCI Symposium*, to cross pollinate dialogues on Hardware in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), while showcasing Shenzhen’s potential as a global innovation hub. Drawing inspiration from influential figures in Open Hardware and Hackerspace movements, like Bunnie Huang and Mitch Altman, the symposium emphasizes the democratization of access to Shenzhen’s manufacturing power. This focus is particularly beneficial for communities in developing countries as it amplifies financial accessibility to hardware, but it also paves the way for scaling research to unprecedented dimensions and unexplored territories. In collaboration with leading open hardware industry partners such as Seeed, the symposium provides invaluable insights into these manufacturing intricacies. The recent pandemic has undeniably disrupted global supply chains, but with China’s reopening, the symposium offers a timely platform to rediscover and delve into Shenzhen’s revitalized ecosystem. Join us for an enlightening journey through the landscape of HCI, where academia meets industry, theory meets practice, and potential meets opportunity.

*the residency started with the Scalable HCI Symposium, here is an overview made with our host, SUSTech:

Symposium participants from MIT : Andres Rico (City Science), Cathy Fang (Fluid Interfaces), Cedric Honnet (Responsive Environments & CSAIL), David Preiss (CBA), Ganit Goldstein (Tangible Media & Architecture), Hila Mor (Tangible Media & Berkeley), Ishraki Kazi (ACT), Jack Forman (Tangible Media & CBA), Leo McElroy (CBA), Liu Yang (Tangible Media), Lingdong Huang (Future Sketches), Martin Nisser (CSAIL), Yunyi Zhu (CSAIL).

Residency program summary:

 - Seminar presentations by distinguished guests from academia & industry (Berkeley & Seeed)
 - Demos & posters by international participants (+Harvard, Berkeley, Cornell, Parsons, CMU, NYU...)
 - Hands-on workshops (Tiny ML)
 - Hackathon - subject: Open Tech for Good

 - Field trips to the world famous HuaQiangBei electronic market
 - Factories visits: PCBs, injection molding, 3d printing, laser machines, knitting...
- Makerspace & Hackerspace visits (Chaihuo, SZDIY...)

 - Art village (Dafen)
 - Art & Tech visits (HQB Museum, AIRSpace,...)
 - Food exploration field trips (Dongmen)


The Symposium was started with Dr Seungwoo Je from the SUSTech School of Design, which participated in funding the event, along with SIGCHI and Seeed.

The residents were guided in the mazes of the HuaQianBei electronic markets by a dream team that includes Jose Angel Torres (Source Parts Inc), Noah Zerkin (Combine Reality), Paul Hamilton (SUSTech) and Terry Given (Tymphany), thanks a lot for sharing your secrets and your passion!

This residency was heavily inspired, and aims to continue the legacy of the followings, in its own way:
 - The Previous Research At Scale and Hacking Manufacturing summer schools (+older occurrences).
 - The Hacker Trip To China by Noisebridge, the San Francisco Hackerspace.