Ali Shtarbanov is a Bulgarian-American interdisciplinary platform architect, interaction designer, and electrical engineer. His prior works range from interactive interfaces with haptic feedback that bridge the gap between the physical and the digital; to tools & development platforms that enable researchers, engineers, and artists to prototype rapidly & easily.

Ali is the inventor of the FlowIO Platform for and the founder of SoftRobotics.IO. He is also a Ph.D. candidate at MIT Media Lab and a Research Scientist at Meta Reality Labs . Previoulsy, he earned two bachelor degrees in Physics and Electrical Enigneering from Lehigh Univeristy (top 1%), and also a Master's Degree in Human-Computer Interaction from the MIT Media Lab.

Ali's works have been presented at a number of international conferences and exhibitions including CHI (‘18, ’19, ’21, '22), SIGGRAPH’20, IROS’20, UIST’21. Ali has won numerous design, research, and engineering awards and recognitions. Some of those include, The 2021 Hackaday Grand Prize Award, Gold Medal at ACM CHI'21 Student Research Competition, Core77 Design Award, iDA Gold Award in Robotics, iDA Silver Award in Education, Best Project Award at IROS'20 Workshop on Modeling and Control of Soft Robotics, Silver A'Design Award, and many others. Ali has also served as a reviewer and judge for various conferences and contests including Hacking Arts, IEEE HAVE, and MIT Technology Review "35 Innovators Under 35, Europe".


Mission

To democratize and enable rapid prototyping and innovation opportunities in emerging fields for researchers, designers, artists, and makers from all technical and socioeconomic backgrounds, by developing and deploying enabling platforms that are highly versatile, general purpose, and simple to use by anyone.

Mentorship

I've had the privilege to mentor the following students as my undergraduate research assistants

  • Tuan Nguen (2016)

  • Matthew Marquez (2016-2017)

  • Qiuyue Liu (2017)

  • Dovran Charyyev (2017)

  • Catherine Yang (2017-2018)

  • Valerie Chen (2018-2019)

  • Alisha Fong (2019)

  • Francesco Bonde (2019-2020)

  • Layal Barakat (2020)

  • Hyeonji (Hailey) Oh (2021-2022)

  • Corrina Berger (2022)

Ali's works have been presented at a number of international conferences and venues - CHI (‘18, ’19, ’21, '22), SIGGRAPH’20, IROS’20, UIST’21 – and have been featured in design exhibitions at both MIT and in Como, Italy. Ali has won numerous design, research, and engineering awards and recognitions. Some of those include, The 2021 Hackaday Grand Prize Award, Gold Medal at ACM CHI'21 Student Research Competition, Gold & Silver International Design Awards (iDA) in the Robotics and Education categories, Best Project Award at IROS'20 Workshop on Modeling and Control of Soft Robotics, Silver A'Design Award, and many others. Ali has also served as a reviewer and judge for various conferences and contests including Hacking Arts, IEEE HAVE, and MIT Technology Review "35 Innovators Under 35, Europe".