Tom MacTavish is a research professor at IIT Institute of Design (ID) who teaches courses related to interaction design history, theory, and practice. 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). 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.

Activities at ID

Tom has taught at ID since 2008, moving from Visiting Associate Professor to Research Assistant Professor in 2011. For nine years before coming to ID, he directed the Motorola Labs Center for Human Interaction Research with research laboratories in Phoenix, Arizona; Schaumburg, Illinois; and Shanghai, China. In prior years, he led the Human Interface Technology Center based in Atlanta, Georgia, for NCR Corporation and served as director of engineering for NCR’s wireless communications and networking engineering group in Utrecht, The Netherlands. In addition to his teaching role at ID, Tom also serves as Chief Design Officer at entigenlogic, in Schaumburg, where he established a design research and strategy practice for the emerging tech company focused on natural language processing and understanding. 

Industry Experience

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. One of his recent projects was E-Networks Guiding Adherence to Goals for Exercise and Diet, funded by a National Institutes of Health grant. 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. This technology helps users lower their risk of becoming obese; the US is facing an obesity epidemic that will lead to higher incidents of Type 2 diabetes if the trend isn’t reversed.

Speaking and Publishing

Tom’s invited speaking roles and panel sessions include the annual conferences for Persuasive Technology from 2010 to the present, and he has also served at the Design and Emotion International Conference. His work has appeared in The Design Journal Proceedings for the 12th European Academy of Design Conference and in the Proceedings for the 9th International Conference on Persuasive Technology. Tom also served as co-editor of the Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Persuasive Technology and wrote “The Synthesis of Design, Technology, and Business Goals,” a chapter (6)  for Design Integrations: Research and Collaboration in 2009.

Related Patents

MacTavish, Thomas J. Method for leveraging in-vehicle resources. US Patent 6,721,635B2.

MacTavish, Thomas J. Method for modification of vehicular navigation information. US Patent 6,636,799B2.

MacTavish, Thomas J. Method and apparatus for providing feedback of vocal quality to a user. US Patent 8,019,050.