About

Lei Zhang is a Ph.D. candidate at University of Michigan, School of Information, advised by Professor Steve Oney and Professor Anhong Guo. His research in human-computer interaction focuses on designing and building content creation tools for end-users to craft immersive experiences, including Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). By exploring novel techniques to augment people's creativity, collaboration, and communication, his research aims to enable anyone to easily create and personalize digital content in the era of spatial computing.

Lei’s work has been published at top-tier HCI venues including CHI, UIST, and CSCW. His first-authored papers have received a best paper award at CSCW 2022 and a best short paper award at VL/HCC 2019. Lei interned at Snap Research twice (Summer 2021 & 2022), working with Dr. Andrés Monroy-Hernández, Dr. Rajan Vaish, and Dr. Fannie Liu. He holds a BE in Software Engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Outside of work, Lei is passionate about music production, skateboards, and 35mm film photography. He is introverted.

Contact: raynez@umich.edu

Bio

Publications

Thumbnail for Jigsaw: Authoring Immersive Storytelling Experiences with Augmented Reality and Internet of Things

Jigsaw: Authoring Immersive Storytelling Experiences with Augmented Reality and Internet of Things

Lei Zhang, Daekun Kim, Youjean Cho, Ava Robinson, Yu Jiang Tham, Rajan Vaish, Andrés Monroy-Hernández.
CHI 2024
We introduce Jigsaw, a system that enables novices to both consume and create immersive stories that harness virtual and physical augmentations. Jigsaw achieves this through the novel fusion of mobile AR with off-the-shelf Internet-of-things (IoT) devices. We evaluated the consumption and creation of immersive stories through a qualitative user study with 20 participants, and found that end-users were able to create immersive stories and felt highly engaged in the playback of three stories. However, sensory overload was one of the most notable challenges across all experiences.
Thumbnail for VRGit: A Version Control System for Collaborative Content Creation in Virtual Reality

VRGit: A Version Control System for Collaborative Content Creation in Virtual Reality

Lei Zhang, Ashutosh Agrawal, Steve Oney, Anhong Guo.
CHI 2023
We introduce VRGit, a new version control system for collaborative content creation in VR. VRGit enables novel visualization and interactions for version control commands such as history navigation, commits, branching, previewing, and re-using. VRGit is also designed to facilitate real-time collaboration by providing awareness of users’ activities and version history through concepts of portals and shared history visualizations.
Thumbnail for Auggie: Encouraging Effortful Communication through Handcrafted Digital Experiences

Auggie: Encouraging Effortful Communication through Handcrafted Digital Experiences

Lei Zhang*, Tianying Chen*, Olivia Seow*, Tim Chong, Sven Kratz, Yu Jiang Tham, Andrés Monroy-Hernández, Rajan Vaish, and Fannie Liu.
CSCW 2022 (🏆 Best Paper Award)
Digital communication is often brisk and automated. From auto-completed messages to “likes,” research has shown that such lightweight interactions can affect perceptions of authenticity and closeness. On the other hand, effort in relationships can forge emotional bonds by conveying a sense of caring and is essential in building and maintaining relationships. To explore effortful communication, we designed and evaluated Auggie, an iOS app that encourages partners to create digitally handcrafted Augmented Reality (AR) experiences for each other.
Thumbnail for FlowMatic: An Immersive Authoring Tool for Creating Interactive Scenes in Virtual Reality

FlowMatic: An Immersive Authoring Tool for Creating Interactive Scenes in Virtual Reality

Lei Zhang and Steve Oney.
UIST 2020
In this paper, we introduces FlowMatic, an immersive authoring tool that raises the ceiling of expressiveness by allowing novice programmers to specify reactive behavior.
Thumbnail for Studying the Benefits and Challenges of Immersive Dataflow Programming

Studying the Benefits and Challenges of Immersive Dataflow Programming

Lei Zhang and Steve Oney.
VL/HCC 2019 (🏆 Best Short Paper Award)
In this paper, we study the benefits and challenges of immersive dataflow authoring, a paradigm that allows users to build VR applications using dataflow notation while immersed in the VR world.
Thumbnail for Cubicle: An Adaptive Educational Gaming Platform for Training Spatial Visualization Skills

Cubicle: An Adaptive Educational Gaming Platform for Training Spatial Visualization Skills

Ziang Xiao, Helen Wauck, Zeya Peng, Hanfei Ren, Lei Zhang, Shiliang Zuo, Yuqi Yao, and Wai-Tat Fu
IUI 2018
In this paper, we study gamification as a way to motivate first year engineering students to take part in an online workshop designed to train their spatial visualization skills. Our game contains eight modules, each designed to train a different component of spatial visualization.

News

05/2024: I'll present Jigsaw at CHI 2024.

04/2024: I'm joining NJIT as an Assistant Professor in Spring 2025, after a one-term postdoc at Princeton's Computer Science.

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