Computational Design Lab


One of the big attractions to MTID was the space it would afford me to continue exploring the potential of 4D objects as data visualizers.  While work has been done on various forms of shape-changing surfaces that update corresponding to data, a tool has yet to be made that is dependable, affordable, and fun to use.  So why not join the race?


Previous work:

Here’s the big idea: Use stats to make robotic surfaces that changes shape to represent various points in time along the data set. It’s a graph…..that wiggles. The base idea is in progress. Here’s some vis to help out.

This is a 3D graph of continental energy consumption between 2000-2005 (U.N. Statistical Yearbook 2009) Imagine, like the gizmo below, shape changes according to the rules of the graph via, let’s say, a bunch of mechanical arms. The relationship between the length of the arms compares, in this case, relative energy consumption…

Wrap a surface around that thing, and it becomes a surface that changes shape. Not randomly! But actually based on representation of some stats. The next images show different variations of only ONE object.
Here is the protype, “CUBE” which was used to begin exploring various visual potential.


Current Work: (as of 10/11/11)

Now I’m looking at ways to pack as many individually actuated arms into as small a space as possible.  I’m starting with the basics.  Make something move, build in the software to help it know its position.  Below is a not-so-successful yet informative first go.  As my cohort has so astutely pointed out, the slop is partially because I’m measuring time, here.  Not distance which is what I’m going for…

The next steps, which I’ll continue to post here, will explore pneumatics, hydraulics, linear and rotary encoders.  The reason for the actuator change from a servo motor I hope is obvious.  If I base each “finger” on it’s own motor I’ll have to open a nuclear power plant to run the thing.  Time to design for scalability.  If anyone wants to play, please let me know.  I can’t get there without collaboration.  Nor do I want to.

Author: Zack Jacobson-Weaver
Category: Work In Progress