A series of tangible interface prototypes using soft composite materials and shape changing designs. Each of these interfaces explored the soft robotics field and have potential to be integrated into various product experiences. The materials we explored integrated the capabilities of both input sensing and dynamic shape changing output.
The project was a collaboration with designers Stephanie Burgess and Nour Chamoun. We created the various interfaces using silicon, copper tape, spandex, air pumps, laser cutter, paper, motors, and Arduino.
Multiple prototypes were created over the course of a few months, and our two most successful prototypes were creating a pneumatic texture and a composite sensor using paper folding techniques and copper tape.
Pneumatic Texture Prototype
To create this texture, we fabricated an airtight box with an empty space for the tubing from the air pump and a space for the silicone mold. The silicone molds were created with three layers: a layer of patterned spandex sandwiched by silicon on the top and bottom. The patterns were designed in illustrator and fabricated by laser cutting into the spandex. To create the silicon mold, laser cut boxes were filled with 3mm of silicone, followed by a layer of spandex, and finally by another layer of silicone. To ensure there were minimal bubbles in the silicone and the layers were even, we created our own centrifuge with a motor and Arduino. Finally, once the molds were cured, they were placed onto the airtight box with clamps and the air pumps were turned on creating a dynamic texture.
Composite Sensors on Paper Engineered Structures Prototype
Compositing copper tape on linear-paper engineered structures, the change in length of a structure can be sensed and measured using force. To create these sensors, a 3D structure with distinct folds equidistance apart was constructed with rectangular nodes made of copper tape horizontally along the side of the paper, equidistant apart. The top node was connected to power to create a square wave of voltage, and the additional nodes were connected to Arduino digital pins as capacitive sensors. After stimulating the top node with a square wave of voltage, the capacitance of each node was measured and measurements were averaged over 24 time cycles to map a digital model of the physical structure.