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KMDI-Semaphore works to produce human-centred research and pedagogical resources aimed at exploring, critiquing, and informing the design of technological devices, media, and systems.

Founded in 1996 by Prof. Ron Baecker and now headed by Prof. Sara Grimes (Director), the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) is a cross-disciplinary research institute spanning multiple departments and faculties of the University of Toronto. It focuses on exploring, designing and critiquing the complex relationships between information, technology, and society, in ways that will protect the rights and enrich the lives of humans. The KMDI offers a Collaborative Specialization in Knowledge Media Design, through which University of Toronto graduate students can pursue an interdisciplinary specialization in addition to their regular departmental degree program.

Our merger with the Semaphore Research Cluster and its labs, such as the Critical Making Lab, expands KMDI’s research agenda to advance shared values for social justice and human-centred design through action research, cross-sector collaboration, and community outreach. Our current projects include studies of the various social, cultural and political implications of everyday technologies, from 3D printers and gaming platforms, to touch devices and environmental data infrastructures.