Suranga Nanayakkara is an Associate Professor at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute, the University of Auckland (UoA). Before joining UoA, Suranga was an Assistant Professor at Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and a Postdoctoral Associate at the Fluid Interfaces group, MIT Media Lab. He received his PhD in 2010 and BEng in 2005 from the National University of Singapore. In 2011, he founded the “Augmented Human Lab” to explore ways of creating ‘enabling’ human-computer interfaces as natural extensions of our body, mind and behaviour.

Suranga is among that rare breed of engineers that has a sense of “humanity” in technology. This ranges from practical behavioral issues, understanding real-life contexts in which technologies function, and understanding where technologies can be not just exciting or novel, but have a meaningful impact on the way people live. The connection he feels to the communities in which he lives and with whom he works is a quality that will ensure his research will always have real relevance.

His work is most important to the people whose lives it most directly impacts: those who face challenged to function in the world due to sensory deficits in hearing or vision. What also makes Suranga’s contributions important is that they are not only applicable to those specific communities. Because of his emphasis on “enabling” rather than “fixing,” the technologies that Suranga has developed have a potentially much broader range of applications. With publications in prestigious conferences, demonstrations, patents, media coverage and real-world deployments, Suranga has demonstrated the potential of advancing the state-of-the-art in Assistive Human Computer Interfaces. For the totality and breadth of achievements, he has won many awards including young inventor under 35 (TR35 award) in the Asia Pacific region by MIT TechReview, Outstanding Young Persons of Sri Lanka (TOYP), and INK Fellowship 2016.

Academic Positions

Education & Training

  • Ph.D 2009

    Ph.D in Engineering

    National University of Singapore

  • Visiting Graduate 2007

    Graduate Student Attachment

    Music Computation and Cognition (MuCoaCo) Laboratory, University of Southern California

  • B.Eng. 2005

    B.Eng. (Electrical and Computer Engineering)

    National University of Singapore

  • Visiting Undergraduate 2003

    Student Exchange Program (SEP)

    University of Birmingham

  • G.C.E. A/L 2000

    G.C.E. Advanced Level

    Royal College, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka

Honors and Awards

  • Dec 2016
    Excellence in Research
    Awarded by SUTD, in recognition of research excellence over a period of time with impact in scholarly field, interdisciplinary contributions across fields, broader impact to society, translation to practice, commercialisation, and teaching practice.
  • Dec 2016
    Steve Howard Award for Best Paper, OZCHI’16
    In recognition of the research paper ‘MuSS-Bits: Sensor-Display Blocks for Deaf People to Explore Musical Sounds.’ presented at the 27th Annual CHISGI Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference.
  • Mar 2016
    Singapore Design Award
    Awarded for the Project FingerReader by Design Business Chamber Singapore.
  • Dec 2015
    Ten Outstanding Young Persons of Sri Lanka Award (TOYP)
    The Ten Outstanding Young Persons of Sri Lanka (TOYP) Program serves to formally recognise young people who excel in their chosen fields and exemplify the best attributes of the world's young people.
  • Dec 2014
    Best Paper, OZCHI’14
    In recognition of the research paper ‘PaperPixels : A Toolkit to Create Paper-based Displays’ presented at the 25th Annual CHISGI Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference.
  • Jan 2014
    Young Innovator under 35 (MIT TR35), Asia Pacific region
    An award given by MIT Technology Review for top young innovators under the age of 35 in Southeast Asia who will shape the future by transforming existing industries and establishing new ones.
  • Jan 2014
    Finalist, Singapore Challenge, GYSS’14
    In recognition of the white paper ‘Smart adaptive interfaces for ageing gracefully’ submitted to Global Young Scientist Summit 2014.
  • Aug 2008
    Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the year
    Awarded in recognition of outstanding contribution towards the promotion of cricket in the National University of Singapore
  • Aug 2005
    NUS Research Scholarship
    A full scholarship awarded by the National University of Singapore to pursue Doctoral research
  • Aug 2005
    NUS Undergraduate Scholarship
    A full scholarship awarded by the National University of Singapore to pursue undergraduate studies
  • 2001-2005
    Engineering Dean’s List of Excellence
    Awarded by National University of Singapore in recognition of the outstanding academic results
  • Aug 2000
    Best Student (Overall Academic Results), Royal College
    Awarded by Royal College, Sri Lanka in recognition of the best overall academic results in all academic streams in the school and GCE A level Examination results