ainsley sutherland

currently in: Cambridge, MA


I am a media technologist and researcher working in immersive computing, interaction design, and social organization. I am interested in voice interaction, decentralized organizations, and embodied cognition. I was a 2016 fellow at the BuzzFeed Open Lab, as well as a researcher in the Imagination, Computation, and Expression lab at MIT. I have an MS from MIT in comparative media studies, and a BA from the University of Chicago in economics.

Immersive Computing and Experience Design

Mediate VR

A platform for immersive user research in virtual reality, using a voice-based interface.


A prototype for spatially annotating 3D VR environments in the browser, developed at BuzzFeed and using Mozilla's WebVR.


VR experience using pointclouds and adaptive perception to create new physical sensations in VR.

Interview with Satya Nadella

Early 360-video project featuring experimental editing, combining multiple shots and transitions

Valley Fire

Most-watched 360 video documentary on YouTube (at launch of 360 video support), explored giving camera to subjects and ethics of representation in VR and journalism

MIT Thesis

My thesis research at MIT centered on why we believe immersive media are important in the problem of other minds, using case studies of virtual reality experiences. It suggests a framework for tying emotional and social phenomenon to physical perception, and critiques the belief that simply sharing visual perspective provokes understanding.

Imagination, Computation, and Expression lab

While at MIT, I was a researcher in the Imagination, Computation, and Expression lab (under Professor Fox Harrell). In this role I worked on projects that foreground social behavior and understanding in AI-supported narrative experiences.

Game Changer Chicago

Prior to MIT, I started Game Changer Chicago with two University of Chicago professors, Patrick Jagoda and Melissa Gilliam. This program began as an alternate-reality game design workshop for youth sexual health education, and continues as a MacArthur Foundation-supported design lab on the University of Chicago Campus.

Presentations, Workshops, Writing

CPH:DOX production and tools for immersive experience design, and why designing sensory perception matters in science media, March 2017

MIT Open Documentary Lab moderated panel on narrative tools for immersive storytelling, October 2016

Debugging the Empathy Machine: why are we interested in the minds of others, and does VR really help us?


My dog Koda!