Media note: A video of Jenny Sabin discussing the process of creating “Ada" can be viewed here: and downloaded here:

Newswise — ITHACA, N.Y. – Jenny Sabin, professor of architecture at Cornell University, and her team at Jenny Sabin Studio have collaborated with a group of engineers, data scientists and designers at Microsoft Research to create a responsive, immersive space that uses AI to process facial patterns and the emotions they reveal as data.

“Ada,” a responsive, photoluminescent fiber pavilion designed to “smile back at you,” has just opened, suspended within a light-filled atrium at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Washington.

The project took shape in 2018 with Sabin’s appointment as Microsoft Research’s most recent artist-in-residence, a program that looks to artists and designers to bring inspiration, material and experimental form to Microsoft’s ongoing areas of research.

“Ada,” a two-story, 1,100-pound structure, integrates Sabin’s use of new technologies in architecture with Microsoft’s data science and programming expertise to create a responsive space that reflects the collective human experience there.

“From the beginning, our hope has been for both parties to benefit from a collaboration that demonstrates some of the most exciting aspects of AI by bringing an interactive spatial component to Microsoft’s work,” Sabin said. “Our intent was to bring other voices into a project involving emerging technology to demonstrate AI in a way that counters the fearful, dystopic way in which it is often depicted. “

Named after polymath and early computer scientist Ada Lovelace, “Ada” is a pavilion of knitted fiber that is designed and conceived as a flexible space driven by sentiment data captured in real time. Sabin describes “Ada” as an architecture that is “happy to see you.”

To make “Ada” come to life, Sabin and her team have worked with Microsoft researchers to create algorithms and scripts to determine how the data behind the project drives the space and its advanced lighting scheme, the structure’s “knitted light.”

“Ada” seeks to help answer tough questions and gain understanding of the cultural effects and implications of how humans interact with this kind of technology. The project is meant to inspire new ways of thinking about artificial intelligence and how it can lead to more responsive and personalized spaces.

“‘Ada’ is not just about producing and designing a beautiful, interactive form,” Sabin said. “I think of it more as a live experiment that can operate across multiple scales and engage diverse publics, including the researchers who work in the building – the team I’ve been working with directly, as well as others who will be invited to see and interact with it.”

For more information, see this Cornell Chronicle story.

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