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 intern at Meta Reality Labs . Previoulsy, he earned two bachelor degrees in Physics and Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University with highest honors (top 1%), and also a Master's Degree in Media, Arts, and Sciences from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he is now pursuing his PhD in Human-Computer Interaction and focusing on system design and platform deployment. 

Additional bio

Ali Shtarbanov's works have been internationally recognized and have been presented at leading academic conferences, featured in major news outlets and magazines, and have won the top awards at many of the world's most well-known design and engineering competitions. Academic conferences where Ali has presented his work include  CHI (‘18, ’19, ’21, '22), SIGGRAPH’20, IROS’20, UIST’21, IROS'22, and ASCEND'22. Some of the awards he's won include the 2022 Tech Briefs Grand Prize Award, 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, and many others.  Ali frequently gives talks on topics related to Development Platforms, Soft Robotics, Hardware Deployment, Creative Community Building, Open Source Hardware, Making and Prototyping, etc. Ali has also served as a reviewer for several ACM and IEEE conferences, as well as a judge for contest like Hacking Arts and MIT Technology Review "35 Innovators Under 35, Europe".


During my graduate studies, I've had the privilege to mentor and work with the following undergraduate students


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.