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Marianna Obrist


  • Marianna Obrist, Professor of Multisensory Experiences (Informatics), University of Sussex
  • Area

    Research, Knowledge Exchange & Innovation


    Visiting Professor, Burberry Material Futures Research Group

  • Marianna Obrist is a Visiting Professor to the Burberry Material Futures Research Group, working with Professor Sharon Baurley specifically on sustainable future consumer experiences. Marianna is best known internationally for her work on multisensory experience research and design. She is actively shaping the future of computing through the application of a multisensory perspective to interactive technology. Her research ambitions within the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) strongly overlap with the objectives within the Materials Science Research Centre and provide a fruitful foundation for the cross-disciplinary collaboration between computer science, sensory science, technology, design and the arts.

  • Biography

  • Marianna Obrist is Professor of Multisensory Experiences and head of the Sussex Computer Human Interaction (SCHI ‘sky’) Laboratory at the School of Engineering and Informatics at the University of Sussex. She is also Head of the Creative Technology Research Group that bridges computer science, HCI, with product design research. Her research ambition is to establish touch, taste, and smell as interaction modalities in HCI. Before joining Sussex, Marianna was a Marie Curie Fellow at Newcastle University and prior to this an Assistant Professor at the University of Salzburg, Austria. 

    Marianna is an inaugural member for the ACM Future of Computing Academy, leading the co-creation working group with a special focus on the Future of Computing and Food. She was selected Young Scientist 2017 and 2018 to attend the World Economic Forum in the People’s Republic of China. She was a Visiting Associate Professor at Stanford University in summer 2017 and a Visiting Professor at MIT CSAIL in summer 2019. She is part of the Programme Management Committee for the Doctoral Training Programme on ‘Sensation, Perception and Awareness’ at Sussex (bridging Psychology, Informatics, and Arts/Humanities). She has co-authored over 80 research articles in peer-reviewed journals and conferences, and is currently Associate Editor for leading HCI journals including ACM ToCHI and IJHCS. 

    Marianna is also a co-founder of OWidgets, a start-up from the University of Sussex that explores the power of smell in interaction and experience design. OWidgets provides a software and hardware solution for olfactory experience design for a wide range of application scenarios. More details on her research can be found at:

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  • Practice

  • Special Awards and Honours 

    • Co-chair for the CHI 2030 Vision Task Force (CHI is the leading Human-Computer Interaction ACM SIGCHI conference) together with Prof Joseph Konstan (University of Minnesota, USA) and Dr Elizabeth Churchill (Google, USA)
    • Re-invited to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2018 in Tianjin, People's Republic of China, 18–20 September 2018. Selected to attend the WEF in Dalian, China, 27–29 June 2017
    • Inaugural member of the ACM Future Computing Academy (ACM–FCA) in 2017, collaborating with 46 selected researchers and industry representatives from across the globe to tackle relevant challenges in Computing
    • Awarded the title of Senior Member of ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) in 2016, 
    • Invited for the Science Foo Camp at Googleplex
    • Awarded an ERC Starting Grant 
    • Awarded an EU Intra-European Marie Curie Fellowship 2011.
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  • External collaborations

  • Marianna has been collaborating with various academics and industry partners over the years and has secured national and international funding, as well as funding from industry including Oculus VR/Facebook, Ultrahaptics Ltd and other international companies in the automotive industry.

    Professional Memberships:

    • ACM SIGCHI – Special Interest Group for Computer Human Interaction for ACM – the Association for Computing Machinery (since 2005)
    • Bidding Chair for ACM TVX Steering committee – leading international conference on Interactive Experiences for Television and Online Video (July 2015 – July 2017)
    • NEM General Assembly member (European Technology Platform for Networked & Electronic Media) (2006–2011, University of Salzburg)
    • Elected Vice Chair for the ACM TVX Steering committee – leading international conference on Interactive Experiences for Television and Online Video (July 2013 – July 2015) 
    • Steering committee member for the ACM TVX (since 2013) 
    • IFIP, Working Group TC14 on Interactive TV (since 2008)
    • Steering committee member for the EuroiTV Conference series (2008–13)
    • PDS (Platform Digital Salzburg) member, co-organiser of annual Salzburg Media Day (2006–11).
    Industrial Professional Activities:
    • Partnered with New Reality in the design of the Tree multisensory VR experience using our scent-delivery technology for the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland (22—25 January 2019)
    • Collaboration with The Feelies Ltd, joined award through InnovateUK (October 2018 – March 2019)
    • Collaborator of the Center for Multisensory Marketing (CMM) at the Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway (since 2017)
    • Haptic interfaces, industrial research project funding from Oculus VR/Facebook (February 2016 – January 2017).
    • Olfactory interfaces, industrial research project funding from Jaguar Land Rover (April – September 2015)
    • Collaboration with Ultrahaptics Limited, start-up company on haptic technology (since 2014), This collaboration resulted in the agreement of a fully funded 3-year PhD scholarship (2017–20)
    • Marie Curie Alumni based on previously completed two-year IEF Fellowship (since 2013)
    • Red Bull Media House, Austria, collaboration on 3DTV, providing 3D content for user studies (2010)
    • Ovos 3D Media, Austria, collaboration partner (2008–11)
    • Innovation-team, Austria (1999–2010): project management, coordination of the cooperation with Pfizer Austria and the Austrian Society for Andrology. 
    Expert Panel Member:
    • Norwegian Research Council (2012, 2013 and 2014)
    • Italian Research Council (2016)
    • EU European Research Council (2017)
    • EPSRC ICT Prioritisation Panel (2018). 

    Invited Associate Editor:

    • Quality and User Experience Journal (since 2017) 
    • International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, IJHCS (since 2018)
    • ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, ToCHI (from 2019 onwards)

    Selected and Recent Committee Roles:

    • Special Session for QoMEX 2019 conference (Berlin, Germany)
    • Program Chair for NordiCHI 2018 conference (Oslo, Norway)
    • Doctoral Consortium Chair for TVX 2018 conference (Seoul, South Korea)
    • Member of the ACM SIGCHI Communications and Membership Team. SIGCHI – Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction – is the premier international society for human-computer interaction (March 2016 – March 2019)
    • Associate Chair for ACM CHI (2013–15, 2017) under the sub-committee ‘Understanding People: Theory, Concepts, Methods’.

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Research interests

Multisensory experience research and design with a particular focus on investigating tactile, gustatory, and olfactory experiences as novel interaction modalities for human-computer interaction.