Hey there, I am

Yuanzhi Cao

 - Ph.D. candidate

 - HCI/HRI researcher

 - Augmented Reality UX

 - Designer

 - Maker




My current research interest is in the area of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Human-Robot Interaction (HRI). I specialize in designing interactive systems that provide novel Augmented Reality (AR) user experience for smartthing applications, such as Machines, Robotics, and IoTs

  • CapturAR

    published in UIST 2020

    An Augmented Reality Tool for Authoring Human-Involved
    Context-Aware Applications
  • AvaTutAR (study)

    published in CHI 2020

    An Exploratory Study of Augmented Reality Presence
    for Tutoring Machine Tasks
  • GhostAR

    published in UIST 2019

    A Time-space Editor for Embodied Authoring of Human-Robot
    Collaborative Task with Augmented Reality
  • V.Ra

    published in DIS 2019

    An In-Situ Visual Authoring System for Robot-IoT
    Task Planning with Augmented Reality
  • SynchronizAR

    published in UIST 2018

    Spatially Mapping Smart Things Within Augmented Reality Scenes
    Using UWB Distance Sensing Modules
  • ScenarIoT

    published in CHI 2018

    Spatially Mapping Smart Things Within Augmented Reality Scenes
    Using UWB Distance Sensing Modules
  • Ani-Bot

    published in TEI 2018

    A Modular Robotics System Supporting Creation, Tweaking,
    and Usage with Mixed-Reality Interactions
  • WireFab

    published in CHI 2017

    Mix-Dimension Modeling and Fabrication for 3D Mesh Models



Ever since I was a kid in primary school, I have been attending art classes during the weekends for as long as seven years, to learn and practice drawing skills like sketching and painting. Though I did not choose to go that path as a professional artist, the experience and the skill certainly makes a huge impact on my life, and for that, I am forever grateful to my mother. I was learning mechanical engineering during my undergrad and now human-computer interaction. However, I have always considered myself a designer, whose purpose is to imagine and create. In everything I have designed or fabricated, I try to infuse my own sense of aesthetics, not just to make things look pretty, but to seek a balance between engineering and art.

  • B.jpg


    2013 Apr - May

    This is a concept design of the eco-power vehicle with fair mechanical details, it is my undergrad senior design
  • SuperCockroach.jpg


    2012 Mar - Apr

    This is a concept bionic mechanical design based on the cockroach creature, 1st prize in a national competition
  • 16.jpg


    2011 July - Aug

    This is a concept motorbike I have designed based on the movie TRON, would love to build one in the future
  • Spitfire

    2011 Mar - Apr

    This is a modeling and visualization of the famous British Spitfire fighter airplane, it is also my first design project



As a proud Engineer and Maker, I love to make real stuff with my own hands. I am a huge fan of the culture of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and love to create physical prototypes. During my Ph.D. career, I have created a lot of low-cost Robotics and Internet-of-Things (IoT) prototypes with accessible materials and cheap electronics. These prototypes have been greatly helpful in terms of demonstrating the potential use-case scenarios for my research ideas.

  • vra_bot.jpg

    Smartthing prototypes

    2017 - 2019

    Here are the low cost/fidelity prototypes of robots and IoTs for use case demonstration  
  • wireFab.jpg

    WireFab models

    2016 Feb - Aug

    These are the wire-based models I have created for WireFab to guide the software design
  • forceDUT.jpg

    Ecopower vehicles

    2009 - 2011

    This is the single-driver ecopower vehicle I have built with my team during my undergrad



I believe sketching is the best tool for brainstorming. When an exciting new idea emerges in my head, I like to quickly sketch it out before it slips away. I constantly use sketches to communicate with my colleagues and report to my advisors. My sketching skill has been improving during these years and right now I am able to create high-quality sketches that can be directly used in official written documents. In fact, I have been responsible for most of the sketches in my papers and the proposals in the C Design Lab in the past a few years.