[Catherine Letondal]

I'm assistant professor in the Interactive Computing Laboratory at ENAC.

Keywords: tangible interaction, paper computing, interactive software engineering, participatory design, philosophy of technology, end-user programing, participatory programing, temporal data, design for creativity.

Bio: I hold a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction, a Master in Distributed fault tolerant computer systems, an Engineer diploma in Computer Sciences, and a Master in Philosophy. Since 2009, I'm a research engineer at the Interactive Computing Laboratory at ENAC in Toulouse. After working in the industry as a software engineer, I worked for 15 years at the Institut Pasteur, where I defended my PhD thesis in 2001, with Michel Beaudouin-Lafon, on end-user programing for the biologists. Before 2009, I worked at In Situ as a research engineer. See my full professional bio here.

Research: My work on tangible interaction began with the exploration of the possibilities of digital pen and paper in various fields, such as augmented laboratory notebooks for biologists, interactive scientific datasheets, augmented scores of composers, augmented strips of air traffic controllers and job cards for aviation maintenance. Through each of these projects, the focus was first to understand why paper/pen devices and their very diverse properties particularly well align to the associated activities, and then to participatory co-evolve these devices by moving to mixed and digital properties. Based on our work with Air traffic Controllers, I have also contributed to the reflection on tangible interaction models, by putting into perspective distributed cognition processes such as externalization and the use of interactive paper strips on the stripboard. Recently, I have worked on meteorological visualization for the pilots undergoing rapidly developing thunderstorms. Currently I'm reflecting on the physical design space for situation awareness and performance in the interactive cockpit, where touch technologies are going to replace current electronic displays for flying and navigating instruments (AIRTIUS ANR project). Finally, given the challenge of global climate change for technology and aeronautics, I have started to reflect on how to design sustainable air transportation solutions through the concept of Aerocities.

My complementary experience in industry and research has also allowed me to pursue a reflection on software development processes. During my thesis, I have observed and analyzed the programing practices of biologists in the context of a biology research institute - the Pasteur Institute - and proposed a process paradigm: participatory programing. I now focus on the quite different context of system engineering in aerospace, when applied to interactive system design and teaching. In this context, participatory design brings to industrial processes - strongly based on models - an opportunity for early validation and maintaining consistency among multi-disciplinary stakeholders all along the process.

As a researcher, I also participate to the advising of two PhDs, one dedicated to shape changing interfaces, and another, co-advised with Xavier Guchet from the UTC, that addresses gesture-based interaction for pilots through the investigation of anthropological aspects, and that also builds on recent perspectives drawn from the philosophy of technology.


  • best paper at CHI 2009 [CI.5]
  • honorable mention at CHI 2013 [CI.8]
  • demonstration 2nd prize at IHM 2009 [CN.5]
Updated : August, 22 2019