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Behind the Scenes

James Patten is an interaction designer, inventor, and
visual artist, whose practice pushes the boundaries of interactivity beyond traditional screens.

From experiential activations for global brands to large-scale installations for public and private institutions, his work challenges us to imagine interaction beyond traditional screens. His studio-initiated research has led to the creation of new technology platforms, like Thumbles, tiny-computer controlled robots; novel actuated lighting features; and immersive environments that engage the body.

He is a TED Senior Fellow and Speaker and earned his doctorate at the MIT Media Lab where he studied in the Tangible Media Group under Hiroshi Ishii. Prior to the Media Lab, Patten studied virtual environments with Randy Pausch at the University of Virginia, and developed new interfaces for visualizing time-varying volumetric data at NASA Langley Research Center.

His work has been exhibited or performed in venues such as the Cooper Hewitt, the Museum of Modern Art, the Transmediale festival in Berlin, the Museo Guggenheim Bilbao and the Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Austria and recognized in several international design competitions.

Awards
  • 2014 – TED Senior Fellow
  • 2010 – Winner, American Association of Museums Muse Gold, Best Interactive Kiosk for “Create a Chemical Reaction”
  • 2011 – TED Fellow
  • 2005 – Honorable Mention – Transmediale Media Arts Festival for “Corporate Fallout Detector”
  • 2005 – Director’s grant – Council for the Arts at MIT for “Corporate Fallout Detector”
  • 2004 – Best in Show, Best Interactivity, Best in Academic Category – Designing Interactive Systems competition for “Audiopad”
  • 2004 – Honorable Mention – International Design Magazine Annual Design Review for “Audiopad”
  • 2004 – Bronze Award – Industrial Design Society of America – International Design Excellence Awards for “Audiopad”
  • 2004-2006 – MIT Arts Scholar
  • 2003-2005 – Mastercard Fellow, MIT Media Lab
  • 2002-2003 – Intel Fellow, MIT Media Lab
  • 2000-2001 – Mitsubishi Electric Research Lab Fellow, MIT Media Lab
  • 1999 – Honorable Mention, Computing Research Association Outstanding Undergraduate Award
  • 1998 – Louis T. Rader Research Award, Department of Computer Science, University of Virginia
  • 1996-1999 – Echols Scholar – University of Virginia
  • 1995 – Rodman Scholar – University of Virginia
  • 1995 – Virginia State Champion, Extemporaneous speaking, VHSL Division AA
  • 1994 – Virginia State Champion, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, VHSL Division AA
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