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RetroFab: A Design Tool for Retrofitting Physical Interfaces using Actuators, Sensors and 3D Printing

Best Paper Honorable Mention
ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
2016

Video title (x:xx min.)

RetroFab: A Design Tool for Retrofitting Physical Interfaces using Actuators, Sensors and 3D Printing (5:00 min.)

Abstract

We present RetroFab, an end-to-end design and fabrication environment that allows non-experts to retrofit physical interfaces. Our approach allows for changing the layout and behavior of physical interfaces. Unlike customizing software interfaces, physical interfaces are often challenging to adapt because of their rigidity. With RetroFab, a new physical interface is designed that serves as a proxy interface for the legacy controls that are now operated using actuators. RetroFab makes this concept of retrofitting devices available to non-experts by automatically generating an enclosure structure from an annotated 3D scan. This enclosure structure holds together actuators, sensors as well as components for the redesigned interface. To allow retrofitting a wide variety of legacy devices, the RetroFab design tool comes with a toolkit of 12 components. We demonstrate the versatility and novel opportunities of our approach by retrofitting five domestic objects and exploring their use cases. Additionally a preliminary study reports on the experience of retrofitting devices with RetroFab.

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The nature and quality of interaction can be dramatically affected by both the input sensing capabilities and output display characteristics of an interactive system. We are interested in exploring novel input and output configurations to help guide and inform future system designs that may be deployed on a wider scale as these technologies mature.

Gadget

Project Gadget explores experience design for the Internet of Things. In particular, it examines new authoring tools and concepts that enable designers to focus on designing behaviours, not objects. This project is led by the User Interface research group, part of Autodesk Research. Contact UIResearch@autodesk.com for more information.

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