Portrait of Indrani Medhi Thies

Indrani Medhi Thies

Principal Researcher


Indrani Medhi Thies is a principal researcher in the Technology and Empowerment Group at Microsoft Research India. Her research interests are in the areas of user-centered design, human-computer interaction, and technology for global development. Most of Indrani’s work has been in user experience and user interface design for low-literate and emergent users from low-income communities. Some of her other work is in user experience of conversational agents, mainly chatbots; social media use among mothers of young children; 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 Institute of Design (ID) at Illinois Tech, 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 (talk here), the MIT TR35 award, ACM SIGCHI and ACM CSCW best paper honorable mentions. She has received a “Young Indian Leader” award from CNN IBN, a “Youth Icon under 35” award from India Today, and featured 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. She has given invited talks at various venues including TEDx, MIT and Harvard.

Fun facts: In her free time Indrani loves to do artwork with her child, 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.