Joe Mullenbach

Joe Mullenbach's picture

Segal Design Institute

Tech B230

Year graduated: 
Former Position/Degree: 
Ph. D.

My research spans both mechanical design and human centered design. The mechanical design aspect includes the development of surface haptic devices that make it possible to feel forces on a flat screen. The human centered design involves programming those forces in such a way as to give users the impression that they are interacting with virtual objects. With surface haptics we strive to design touchscreen interactions which are more useful, more usable, and create closer connection.

Specific research projects that I have worked on or am currently working on include the ActivePaD device, automotive interaction design, and the TPaD Tablet. More information about these projects can be found on the Surface Haptic Interaction Design and Surface Haptic Technology Development pages.

External Links


Best of CHI Honorable Mention 2014- Exploring Affective Communication Through Variable-friction Surface Haptics

Nominated Best Demo Haptics Symposium 2014- Variable Friction and Multi-actuator Vibrotactile Haptics on a Tablet Computer

Martin Outstanding Graduate Fellowship 2013

Segal Design Cluster Fellowship- A design centered cross-disciplinary research fellowship from the Segal Design Institute.

Best Poster Award Haptics Symposium 2012 “ActivePaD Surface Haptic Device,” Joe Mullenbach, Dan Johnson, J. Edward Colgate, Michael A. Peshkin

Nominated Best Paper Award Haptics Symposium 2012 “ActivePaD Surface Haptic Device,” Joe Mullenbach, Dan Johnson, J. Edward Colgate, Michael A. Peshkin


System and Method for Reducing Environmental Crematorial Release of Mercury from Mercury-Containing Dental Amalgam, Benjamin Arcand, Bryan N. Rolfes, Nikhil M. Murdeshwar, Joseph E. Hale, Steven M. Johnson, Luke A. Mitlyng, Joseph Mullenbach, Kristopher I. Kapphahn (2009) Application number: 12/625,176

Masters of Mechanical Engineering Northwestern University 2013

Thesis- “Reducing Driver Distraction with Touchpad Physics”

Bachelor of Science Mechanical Engineering with Distinction

University of Minnesota 2009

Designing Product Interactions - Co-taught and co-developed the curriculum for a new course offering for the EDI, Engineering Design and Innovation, Masters Program. The course focused on multimodal and “smart” interactions with a heavy hands-on, experiential learning component. Sampson, C., Mullenbach, J. 2013. 

TPad Tablet Bootcamp- Organized and led TPad Tablet Bootcamp, a crash course on the technology of and design methods for the TPad Tablet. Mullenbach, J., Shultz, C., 2014.

Introduction to Dynamic Systems- Teaching assistant for experimental “flipped” classroom format [Sept 2012].

Surface haptic interactions with a TPad tablet

Mullenbach, J., C. Shultz, A. Marie Piper, M. A. Peshkin, and J. E. Colgate, "Surface haptic interactions with a TPad tablet", Proceedings of the adjunct publication of the 26th annual ACM symposium on User interface software and technology - UIST '13 Adjunct, St. Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom, ACM Press, 2013.