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Dr Elia Gatti
3rd floor open space
169 Euston Road
Dr Elia Gatti profile picture
  • Lecturer in Computational Designs
  • Dept of Computer Science
  • Faculty of Engineering Science

Elia is a researcher of voracious curiosity, as testified by his multidisciplinary background. He obtained his BSc in Psychological Sciences from University of San Raffaele in 2008 and his MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience from the same university in 2010. From January 2011 to March 2014 Elia was a PhD student in Design at the Polytechnic of Milan, where he worked within the mechanical engineering department helping developing novel haptic devices for virtual prototyping and assistive applications. During his PhD, from 2012 to 2013, Elia was also a Visiting Researcher at the University of Oxford, where he worked in the psychology department under the supervision of Professor Charles Spence. There, Elia's work focused on evaluating and manipulating customer behavior using multiple sensory feedback. Fascinated by his work in the mechanical engineering department at the Polytechnic school, in 2015 Elia obtained a second MSc in Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Robotics at the University of Birmingham, while working a sa research assistant within the ERC-funded human-robot interaction project “Coglaboration”. His experience on human perception and human-robot interaction allowed him to obtain an internship with Oculus Research in the summer of 2015. In 2016, the company agreed to fund his entire postdoc at University of Sussex, where Elia worked with professor Marianna Obrist investigating mutisensory experiences and emotions in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). In 2017, Elia moved to the US to work full time as postdoctoral research scientist at Facebook Realty Labs (formerly Oculus research). In 2019 Elia moved back to the UK where he began working as a UX researcher (and later as Behavioural Scientist) for Amazon Text-To-Speech. In this new post, Elia developed an interest towards AI generated content and towards voice perception. Today, since January 2023, Elia is a Lecturer in Computational Design at University College London, as well as a Visiting Academic at Amazon. His research interests include the study of human perception and cognition in the interaction with novel technologies, with a strong accent on VR, AI, and voice interaction.

Research Summary

Elia's research investigates human interaction with novel technologies, with focus on VR interactions and on interactions with AI voices and voice assistants. Since January 2023, Elia is a Lecturer in Computational Design at University College London (UCL) and an Amazon Visiting Academic (Behavioural sciences). In his post at Amazon, Elia investigates users' perception and cognitive responses to AI voices to inform machine learning engineers and language scientists of opportunities and shortcomings of Text-To-Speech (TTS) models. At UCL, Elia' s interests extend VR and XR. There, leveraging on his background in Computational Neuroscience and Cognitve robotics, Elia studies how attention and perception can be manipulated in the virtual environment to deliver novel and immersive experiences to users. These studies include the warping of VR space by manipulating the perceived speed of movement in the virtual environment, the integration of haptic and passive haptic feedback in VR interactions, and the use of AI generated content to drive users' attention during immersive storytelling experiences. Elia's research portfolio includes more than 5 years working for industry. From 2019 to 2023 Elia worked as UX researcher for Amazon, collaborating in many projects evaluating and developing novel TTS models. Before that, from 2017 to 2019, Elia was a postdoctoral research scientist at Meta Reality Labs, where his work centered on haptic interaction and multisensory integration in VR. Elias' academic experiences prior2017 include a industry-funded postdoctoral position at University of Sussex, where he worked on the effect of scent, haptic, visual, and acoustic feedback on human creativity, embodiment, and emotions. Other notable works from Elia include the effect of multi-sensory feedback on consumer behavior (as visiting researcher at University of Oxford) , the study of human emotions mediated/communicated through haptic feedback (as PhD student at Polytechnic of Milan and later at University of Birmingham and University of Sussex), the assessment of human-robot collaboration in assistive tasks (as PhD student at Polytechnic of Milan and later at University of Birmingham), and the perceptual assessment of haptic devices and VR prototypes (as PhD student at Polytechnic of Milan and as visiting researcher at ETH Zurich). Elia authored/co-authored a total of 38scientific publications (including 5 patents) which accrued over 1080citations on Google Scholar to date.  

Teaching Summary

Elia's teaching experience includes a number of guest lectures, first at Polytechnic of Milan, where his contributions focused on haptic perception and cognition, then at university of Birmingham and university of Sussex. With his growing experience, the breadth of his lectures grew to include the relationship between haptic feedback and human emotions, and the study of multisensory illusions in VR environments. From 2020 to 2021he worked as adjunct professor for the platform Jolt.io, teaching UX research methodologies. In 2023, after joining UCL, Elia gave a guest lecture in the future interfaces module for the HCI master. Following the lecture, Elia started supervising 2 MSc students from the computer science department. As postdoc at University of Sussex, Elia supported 2 PhD students and supervised 2 Research assistants funded by Facebook Reality Labs. During his industry work, Elia successfully co-supervised 3 interns working on multisensory integration in VR

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