Augmented materials : towards reconnecting bits of mind and atoms of hand
Towards reconnecting bits of mind and atoms of hand
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Terry Knight and Stefanie Mueller
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Multi-sensory interaction with material is the source of embodied design knowledge in the process of creative design. Through bodily engagement with material in the process of making, the integration of thinking and doing - or mind and hand - results in generating iterative design solutions. While compute raided design (CAD) tools have brought various benefits to the field of design, such as speed and accuracy in modeling, their detachment from physical world eliminates the multi-sensory interaction between designer and material. I argue that in order to overcome the separation of design and making in the context of computer-aided design tools, we need to rethink the interfaces by which designers interact with the digital world. If we aim to bring back material interaction to the computer-aided design process, the material itself should become the interface between designer and computer. I propose Augmented Materials - defined as physical materials embedded with digital and computational capabilities- to fill the gap between physical and digital model making. By embedding functional components such as sensors, actuators and microcontrollers, directly within modules of physical interface, an integrated system emerges that can offer computational capabilities such as speed and precision of modeling, while allowing designers to engage in a hands-on multi-sensory interaction with material. I implement my thesis by introducing NURBSforms, a modular shape-changing interface that lets designers create NURBS-based curves and free-form surfaces in a physical form, just as easily as they do in CAD software. Each module of NURBSforms represents a base curve with variable curvature, with the amount of its curvature being controlled by the designer, and represented through real-time actuation of material. NURBSforms bridges between digital and physical model making by bringing digital capabilities such as such as real-time transformation, programmability, repeatability and reversibility to the physical modality. I implemented two modalities of interaction with NURBSforms, one using direct manipulation, and the other using gestural control. I conclude this work by evaluating NURBSforms interface based on two sets of user studies, and propose potential future developments of the project. My thesis contributes to the fields of Design and Human Computer Interaction by introducing Augmented Materials as a framework for creating computer-aided design interfaces that integrate physical and digital modalities. The NURBSforms interface can be further developed to be used as a pervasive design interface as well as a research and education tool. The software, hardware and fabrication techniques developed during implementation of NURBSforms can be applied to the research projects in the fields of architecture, product design, and HCI.
Thesis: S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture, 2018.Thesis: S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, 2018.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 70-71).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Architecture., Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.