Currently SNF-funded visiting researcher in University College London, Interaction Center,

Hamed S. Alavi 

Is a senior researcher and lecturer at the  Human-IST Research Center, University of Fribourg, and at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL).   In addition, he is a co-founder of Lantern Solutions Sàrl , an EdTech spin-off based in Lausanne, Switzerland. Hamed holds a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction, completed in 2012 at EPFL.

Current Research

With a design-oriented approach, Hamed 's research has been focused on the questions that concern with the human’s interactive experiences with and within built environments.   Particularly, he is interested in the engagement of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) as a design research field in the evolution of buildings and urban spaces as they increasingly incorporate artificial intelligence. From one side, we need to ask what roles user research can and should play in the design of our built environments. How do we envision HCI’s involvement in studying and steering the evolution of interactive and context-aware environments? Are architecture and interaction design methods and processes compatible? How can they be interwoven?  Concretely, how can a team of interaction designers bring HCI tools to an architectural project, and collaborate with other stakeholders? And vice versa: from the other side, can and will architecture change the theory and practice of HCI? What are the specific attributes of building that HCI researchers should take into account when shifting attention and scale from “artefact" to “environment”, from usability and engagement to occupant comfort across multiple dimensions (e.g., thermal, visual, acoustic, respiratory), and from (often) short lifespan or discretionary to durable and immersive? More broadly, what is our mental model of the building that we inhabit now and the "increasingly intelligent"ones we will inhabit in the future? For example, what services do we expect the building to provide seamlessly, and where do we want to retain the manipulation control, and through what interaction modalities?

These and similar questions that embody the complexity of our interactive experiences with built environments define the scope of Hamed’s research agenda which he has been developing with the notion of Human-Building Interaction

Hamed is the inventor of Lantern and ComfortBox, two ambient interactive devices:

ComfortBox is an interactive device containing temperature, light, noise, CO2, air flow, and pressure sensors. While sensing the ambient surrounding and computing the objective quality of environment, it engages its users  in an opportunistic dialogue about how they perceive comfort, from which it learns their contextual preferences. Such information then in the next step will be integrated into the automation systems to personalize the environmental parameters. 

With ComfortBox, Hamed seeks to explore and examine the ways in which the intelligently automated elements of built environments can be reconciled with the humans' inherent desire for agency. 

Lantern is an innovative technology that supports the teacher by providing information about the students’ progress in the problem solving session (also called exercise session, tutoring session, or recitation). During the session, Lantern displays the work status of the students: the exercise on which they are working, whether they need help, and where the help is needed. By making this information visible, Lantern empowers the teachers in managing their course, without imposing any change in how the course is performed. 

The main publication about Lanternin IEEE Transaction on Educational Technology is selected as the "lightspot paper".Lantern has been adopted in several classrooms in Switzerland, Finland, US, China, Australia, etc.

TO BE UPDATED ...       

Latest Publications (2016-2018)


  • Alavi, Hamed S., Himanshu Verma, Jakub Mlynar, and Denis Lalanne. "The Hide and Seek of Workspace: Towards Human-Centric Sustainable Architecture" 2018 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems  CHI'18. ACM, 2018.   (Honorable Mention Award, top 5%)                                                                                                                                                                  
  • Alavi, Hamed S., Elizabeth Churchill, Himanshu Verma, David Kirk, Henriette Biere, Denis Lalanne, and Holger Schnädelbach, "From Artifacts to Architecture" 2018 Conference on Designing Interactive Systems. DIS'18. Extended Abstract. ACM. 2018.                                             
  • Alavi, Hamed S., Himanshu Verma, Jakub Mlynar, and Denis Lalanne. "On the Temporality of Adaptive Built Environments" Chapter proposal, Springer Series of Adaptive Environments, People, Personal Data and the Built Environment.                                                      
  • Alavi, Hamed S., Himanshu Verma, Jakub Mlynar, and Denis Lalanne. "Space-Use Behavior Studies in the Swiss Smart Living Lab" 2018 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems  CHI'18. Workshop Living Labs: Measuring Human Experience in the Built Environment.                                                                                                                                                    
  • Verma, Himanshu, Hamed S. Alavi, and Denis Lalanne. “From Substitution to Augmentation: directions for Human-Interaction Design” To appear in, Springer Series of Adaptive Environments, People, Personal Data and the Built Environment.                                                    
  • Mlynar Jakub, Hamed S. Alavi, Himanshu Verma. “Towards a Sociological Conception of Artificial Intelligence”. Accepted to appear in AGI’18: Eleventh Annual Conference on Artificial General Intelligence.


  • Alavi, Hamed S., Bahrami, Farzaneh., Verma, Himanshu., and Denis Lalanne. "Is Driverless Car Another Weiserian Mistake?" In  Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference Companion Publication on Designing Interactive Systems , pp. 249-253. ACM, 2017. (Honorable Mention Award, top 5%)                                                                                                                    
  • Alavi, Hamed S., Himanshu Verma, Michael Papinutto, and Denis Lalanne. "Comfort: A Coordinate of User Experience in Interactive Built Environments  ." Accepeted in  Interact'17, Mumbai, India                                                                                                                                                  
  • Verma, Himanshu, Hamed, S.Alavi, and Denis Lalanne. "Studying Space Use: Bringing HCI Tools to Architectural Projects." In  Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems , pp. 3856-3866. ACM, 2017.   (Honorable Mention Award, top 5%)    
  • Alavi, Hamed S., Elizabeth Churchill, and Denis Lalanne. "The Evolution of Human-Building Interaction: An HCI Perspective ." Guest-Edit Special Issue of the Journal of Interaction Design and Architecture, Spring 2017                                                                                                         
  • Alavi, Hamed S., Himanshu Verma, and Denis Lalanne. "From Building Data to Building Design ." People, Personal Data and Built Environment, Designing Interactive System Pre-conference workshop 2017.                                                                                                                            
  •  Brambillaa, Arianna., Alavi, Hamed S., Himanshu, Verma., Lalanne, Denis., Jusselme, Thomas., And Andersen Maryline. "Our Inherent Desire for Control: a Case Study of Automation's Impact on the Perception of Comfort". Accepted in CISBAT 2017 International Conference - Future Buildings & Districts - Energy Efficiency from Nano to Urban Scale, CISBAT 2017 6-8 September 2017, Lausanne, Switzerland                                                                    
  • Prieto, Luis., Alavi, Hamed S., and Verma, Himanshu. Strong Technology-Enhanced Learning Concepts. Accepted at the 12th European Conference on Enhanced Learning Technology (EC-TEL, 2017).                                                                                                                                                             
  • Sharma, Kshitij., Alavi Hamed S., Jermann, Patrick,. And Dillenbourg, Pierre. Looking TROUGH vs. Looking AT: A Strong Concept in Technology-Enhanced Learning. Accepted at the 12th European Conference on Enhanced Learning Technology (EC-TEL, 2017).                       
  • Prieto, Luis., Alavi, Hamed S., and Verma, Himanshu.: From Interventions to Theories: Two Literature Analyzes of Knowledge Creation in TEL Design-Dased Research. Zenodo (Jun 2017), doi: 10.5281 / zenodo.816223 


  • Alavi, Hamed S., Elizabeth Churchill, David Kirk, Julien Nembrini, and Denis Lalanne. "Deconstructing Human-Building Interaction." Interactions  23, no. 6 (2016): 60-62.                  
  • Alavi, Hamed S., Denis Lalanne, Julien Nembrini, Elizabeth Churchill, David Kirk, and Wendy Moncur. "Future of Human-Building Interaction." In  Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems , pp. 3408-3414. ACM, 2016.                                                                                                                                                        
  • Zufferey, Jessica., Alavi, Hamed., Kidzinski, Łukasz., and Dillenbourg, Pierre. "Gamified Competition Features for Corporate MOOCs: The Battle Mode." Research Track  (2016): 223.  
  • Sharma, Kshitij, Hamed S.Alavi, Patrick Jermann, and Pierre Dillenbourg. "A gaze-based learning analytics model: in-video visual feedback to improve learner's attention in MOOCs." In  Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge , pp. 417-421. ACM, 2016.

Hamed is the co-editor of two special issues on the topic of Human-Building Interaction:

ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (ACM TOCHI)

For detailed information please see: https://tochi.acm.org/human-building-interaction/

Journal of Interaction Design and Architecture(s)

Table of content and published papers are available online.