Indrani Medhi Thies is a senior researcher in the Technology for Emerging Markets Group at Microsoft Research India. She is currently based at Microsoft Research New England in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Her research interests are in the areas of User Interfaces (UIs), User Experience (UX) Design, and technology for global development. Over the years Indrani’s primary work has been in UIs for low-literate and novice technology users. Her recent work is in UX of conversational agents, mainly chatbots; accessibility for visually impaired users; and crowdsourcing for low-resource environments. Indrani has a Ph.D. from the Industrial Design Centre, IIT Bombay, India; a Masters degree in Design from the IIT Institute of Design, Chicago, USA; and a Bachelors degree in Architecture from VNIT, Nagpur, India. Indrani is trained in fine arts from an early age at the Assam Fine Arts and Crafts Society in Guwahati, India.
Indrani’s distinctions include the ACM SIGCHI Social Impact award, the MIT TR35 award, ACM SIGCHI and ACM CSCW best paper honorable mentions, a “Young Indian Leader” award from CNN IBN, and featuring in the list “50 Smartest People in Technology” by Fortune magazine. Indrani has published research articles in leading scientific conferences and journals. Her Text-Free UIs work has been featured at MoMA the Museum of Modern Art, New York’s “Design and the Elastic Mind” online exhibit. Indrani’s most recent invited talk was at the MIT India Conference.
Fun facts: In her free time Indrani loves to do artwork with her preschooler daughter, or watches and writes reviews for Bollywood movies. Indrani has crossed paths with Bollywood in interesting ways: she has featured in an advertising campaign with Farhan Akhtar (video here); been in the studio audience of the tv show ‘TED Talks India: Nayi Soch‘ hosted by Shah Rukh Khan and shot at the famed Yash Raj Films studio; and moderated a brainstorming session in a professional course at MIT with A.R. Rahman on her team.