Mirza Sarwar

Research Topic

Transparent and Flexible Tactile Interface for Human Computer Interaction

Research Group

Molecular Mechatronics

Research Description

The aim of my research is to develop a next generation flexible transparent tactile interface for human computer interaction that can work even while being physically deformed, a property necessary for a true wearable device. In addition to sensing touch, the device can detect the presence of a hovering finger, a stretch, and a bend. It is highly transparent and is fabricated using a simple and scalable process, and will be widely available and made using low-cost polymer materials. The working principle of the sensor is based on the well-established mutual capacitance technology used in current touch screen devices rendering it easily adaptable. The technology is being further enhanced to detect localized shear for electronic skin application. This would enable robot hands to effectively pick up fragile objects and even provide haptic feedback to surgeons using robotic arms for surgeries.

What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

The research part of course. Being able to indulge myself in a topic that interests me and getting paid to do so.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

There are more sushi places than Mcdonalds!

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

UBC is among the top universities in the world with a magnificent view.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

The research facilities and the industry collaborations.


Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

While working at an entry level position right after my undergraduate program, I felt a need to broaden my mind and push the limits of my intellect and creativity. The most logical path was grad school.

What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

As a research scientist, it is necessary to have the ability to think outside the box, solve problems that are not of textbook origins. This can tend to be difficult due to tunnel vision and requires proper training.

How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?

I feel my program and my supervisor are preparing me very well for those challenges. My supervisor will always tend to have discussions with a very open mind is always encouraging the flow of creative juices.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

My undergraduate thesis had introduced me to the thought process that goes into researching a topic and solving an open ended problem.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I hang out with friends, work out, eat, read Isaac Asimov, and travel.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

It is just as important to choose a compatible supervisor and research group as it is to choose the research topic. In case of a PhD it is really important that you know what you are getting into. Five years of your life during your prime is very expensive.