Molecular implementation of shape-changing user interfaces
29th of August, 2023


Shape-changing user interfaces (UIs), which refer to physical devices capable of altering their form to accommodate users, tasks, or environments, have the potential to bridge the gap between tangible user interfaces’ physicality and the flexibility of graphical user interfaces. These UIs offer promising prospects, including adaptive affordances and improved eye-free interaction. However, they introduce new considerations for the HCI community to examine, as previous research has highlighted the associated challenges. Our objective is to explore the challenges and opportunities presented by modular robots as a novel approach to implementing modular shape-changing UIs. In this context, modular robots are defined as ensembles of robotic modules, which are micro- electromechanical systems embedding computational capabilities and enabling shape changes either independently or collectively. This thesis

specifically investigates the challenges related to modular shape-changing interfaces. The re- search hypothesis is that modular robots can ad- dress the limitations of current implementations of shape-changing UIs, such as pneumatic actuation, rod-based displays, and mechanical structures. Unlike these solutions, modular robots enable the addition of modules to an existing shape and facilitate the attainment of any de- sired shape, akin to programmable“play-doh”. A crucial initial step involves isolating the design factors and comprehending their relative impact on user interaction. This thesis contributes to the field of HCI by: (1) reviewing and structuring the design space of modular shape-changing UIs and (2) conducting user studies to evaluate the impact of three parameters—module size, shape, and strength—on the design of physical interfaces.

Mis à jour le 29 August 2023