I have always been the person that loved inventing and programming things. I developed my first computer game when I was 10 years old. However, while I was still in High School, I first recognized the true power of technology. I watched one of the most inspirational TED talks I have ever seen. In this talk, Dr. Pattie Maes described the SixthSense Project, which augments the physical world with digital information and lets us use natural hand gestures to interact with the information. This is the first time that I could see that technology can be magical. At age sixteen, I created my first interactive augmented reality system inspired by the SixthSense Project using my school projector and my laptop to run image recognition code and show interfaces on physical surfaces that detected gestures and responds to them. As a student from Thailand, Dr. Maes’s talk and the spirit of Media Lab awoke my inner magician.
My magical practice came into fruition through my research on the future of human-computer interaction (HCI) designing and prototyping playful interface systems. For example, I have designed and coded: 1) a 3D printed dress that aesthetically responds to the change in hormones of the person wearing it, empowering the person wearing it to know his/her biological state (accepted to Ubicomp/ISWC’17); 2) a mind-controlled food printer that magically creates food based on the emotion of the person wearing an open BCI device (submitting to CHI’ 18), and 3) a voice controlled gene transformer device that allows a person to cast a spell on the organism by changing genes with their voice.
For me, magic is the shared moment of curiosity where the magician designs an amusing experience that transcends the audience’s expectation and helps them see beyond mundane reality. I believe that the culture of magical sharing is the culture of give and take, where there is an exchange of inspiration and permission to push the boundaries. Once people are inspired to think beyond what they know and have the personal permission to act upon it, they are equipped to be the change agent for society; pursuing things that are even more magical, challenging the status quo, and tackling difficulties in front of them. Inspiration grows aspiration. Magic incites magic. Therefore, I see my role in designing magical technology as the way to build a better society, a more resilient world.
In my TEDx ASU talk titled “Prototyping The Impossible,” I shared my skills of prototyping across computable and uncomputable mediums to create a smooth transition between mind and matter, which allows me to execute projects quickly. Another reason I can handle and lead many exciting projects is due to the fact that I have a great support team and many past collaborators. I have cofounded the Futuristic Research in Enigmatic and Aesthetics Knowledge ( FREAK Lab ) with a network of affiliated researchers from around the world that push the frontier of research in wearable technology, biodigital, machine learning, and space exploration.
As for the future of magic, I believe in the next generation of technology that taps into the deeper relationship between cognition and creativity, people and programmability that will enrich our experience in this world and beyond. Here I present three areas of research interest: wearable magic, programmable magic, and the ultimate magic–space, which I would like to pursue at MIT Media Lab. These three areas represent three unique labs I admire and appreciate their visions.