Tom MacTavish is an assistant professor at IIT Institute of Design and teaches courses related to interaction design history, theory, and practice. He holds master’s degrees in library and information science from University of Michigan and in English from University of Iowa, with a bachelor’s degree in English from Central Michigan University. For nine years before coming to ID, he directed Motorola Labs’ Center for Human Interaction Research with research laboratories in Phoenix (AZ), Schaumburg (IL), and Shanghai (China). In prior years, he led the Human Interface Technology Center based in Atlanta (GA) for NCR Corporation and served as director of engineering for NCR’s wireless communications and networking engineering group in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

As a member of the human/computer interaction research community, Tom has participated in the full range of product conceptualization and development phases including strategy formulation, user and technology research, concept development, and product implementation. These activities resulted in delivered projects and products using many methods and technologies including recognition technologies (handwriting, speech, and image), interaction technologies (synthetic speech, multimodal interaction, and context aware systems), and experience design and prototyping (design research, user centered design, usability evaluations, and rapid prototyping).

Tom has maintained strong ties to university research throughout his career and has served as corporate liaison and advisor to The Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford.

Research Area

Tom’s is focused on Persuasive Interaction Design (PiXD) and understanding what theories, methods, and techniques can be used to provide people with computer assisted support in achieving their goals.  PiXD approaches can include human/computer interaction elements that provide support for behavior change such as increases in motivation and ability as well as expose people to social influence elements such as reciprocity, social proof, and liking.


E-Networks Guiding Adherence to Goals for Exercise and Diet, funded by a National Institutes of Health grant.

In the US, we are facing an obesity epidemic that will lead to higher incidents of Type II Diabetes. The ENGAGE project focused on better understanding support mechanisms to help participants increase awareness of food consumption types and quantities as well as exercise levels by providing an interactive application for SmartPhone users. The application used persuasive interaction design approaches that enabled immediate feedback on food composition (calories and fat grams) and participation by members of a weight loss cohort.


  • Design Integrations, Chapter 6, “The Synthesis of Design, Technology, and Business Goals” 2009
  • “Design Information Framework (DIF) Knowledge Management System: Bridging Viewpoints for Interactive System Design”,Eui-Chul Jung, Keiichi Sato, Yong Chen, Xiaoshan He, Tom MacTavish, Deborah Cracchiolo in Proceedings for Human Computer Interaction International Conference, Las Vegas, NV  2005
  • Driver Performance Improvement through the Driver Advocate: A Research Initiative toward Automotive Safety, Don Remboski, Judy Gardner , Motorola Automotive and Industrial Electronics Group David Wheatley, Joshua Hurwitz, Motorola User-Center Research Lab; Tom MacTavish, Robert “Mike” Gardner, Motorola Human Interface Lab in Proceedings for Convergence 2000 Conference, Detroit, Michigan
  • “Mobile Human/Computer Interaction” in Wireless Communications, The Future by William Webb, John Wiley & Sons, 2007, Pg 79-82

Research Areas

Method for Leveraging In-Vehicle Resources, US 6,721,635 B2
Method for Modification of Vehicular Navigation Information, US 6,636,799 B2
Method and apparatus for providing feedback of vocal quality to a user US 8,019,050