Dr. Tica Lin recently earned her PhD in computer science at Harvard University. Her work with the Harvard Visual Computing Group (VCG) focuses on Immersive Analytics, SportsXR, and Human-AI Interaction, particularly in developing XR visualization and interaction for real-life dynamic environments. She joined TSC to give an in-her-own-words of how she came to bring her love of sports and of science together.

Coming from Taiwan, I’ve always been curious about the world beyond our small Pacific island and eager to step outside my comfort zone. From electrical engineering to digital media to human-computer interaction, the journey of learning and growing helped me discover and focus on what I truly love.

With a unique background in both sports and science, my vision is to bridge the gap between human intelligence and machine intelligence in the realm of sports using powerful AI and XR display technologies. Sports are a thrilling showcase of human passion, physical prowess, and intellectual talent. By leveraging data science and innovative design, I believe we can further unlock the potential of athletes and connect the world through shared understanding and excitement.

I was first introduced to the concept of Human-Centered Design at Georgia Tech Digital Media program. This experience has transformed my life in many ways. I began to understand that tech design depends on multi-disciplinary efforts, both arts and sciences. I was also challenged to develop my ideas with rigorous methodology and present them using multimedia, such as interactive prototypes, visualization, and storytelling. Most importantly, as we learned about novel human-centered technology design, I was equipped with the vision to design interactive technologies that serve better information access and experiences for people.

I began to focus on data visualizations for sports analytics after graduating from Georgia Tech. It was my first job, and it was a dream job. I was the first UX designer on the basketball analytics and strategy team at the NBA Philadelphia 76ers. I never thought that an Asian female could play an essential role in professional sports. Surprisingly, using my product design expertise and empathy for user pain points, my design of data dashboard and visualizations helped sports experts like GMs, coaches. and scouts take advantage of data insights fully and helped the team ride the number to the playoffs in 2017-18 season.

In 2019, I began my journey pursuing a PhD in computer science at the Visual Computing Group at Harvard. My goal was to explore novel extended reality (XR) technologies to further empower sports analytics. Having found the gaps in the current data analytic workflow where people with domain expertise, such as coaches and players, still cannot fully utilize the power of data due to the separation between the digital and physical world, I started investigating a fascinating area called SportsXR. My research explores the interaction and visualization design of XR technologies to enhance real-world sports analytics, such as training, coaching, and game viewing. These research initiatives have led to successful collaborations with coaches and players on US national and NCAA teams.

Athletes can wear AR headsets to see real-time visual feedback during motor skill training, like basketball shooting. Our group collaborated with the bioengineering lab to design a shot tracking system and interactive AR interface, and show that players can get embodied insights from these visualizations and make informed decisions on improving their shot consistency. This paper was published at the top human-computer interaction conference “ACM CHI”, and awarded best paper honorable mentioned.

Lin, T., Singh, R., Yang, Y., Nobre, C., Beyer, J., Smith, M. A., & Pfister, H. (2021, May). Towards an understanding of situated ar visualization for basketball free-throw training. In Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1-13).


Coaches can conduct immersive match video analysis in VR to quickly analyze player performance and synthesize coaching insights. With our AI data pipeline, we can reconstruct 2D badminton game video into 3D game views with contextual data visualization on the virtual court. This design enables coaches to shorten the game analysis time significantly while focusing on finding and communicating critical insights of specific game moments to the players. This paper was published at the top visualization conference “IEEE VIS” and the Journal of IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics.

Lin, T., Aouididi, A., Chen, Z., Beyer, J., Pfister, H., & Wang, J. H. (2023). VIRD: Immersive Match Video Analysis for High-Performance Badminton Coaching. IEEE transactions on visualization and computer graphics.


Game audiences can use interactive technologies to augment their game-viewing experiences with rich data, empowering them to understand and engage with deeper game insights. We design embedded visualizations in videos to bring data closer to basketball fans for game analysis. In our SportsBuddy.ai initiative, we collaborated with Harvard Basketball Teams to create engaging stories with our video visualization technology, highlighting strategic insights and team achievement with narratives.


Check out more of Tica’s work here.