Deconstruct, Imagine, Build: Bringing Advanced Manufacturing to the Maker Community
Physical prototypes serve as a common starting point for the process of innovation, improvement of an existing product, and experimentation of new interactions. As the shapes, forms, and functions of the electronic landscape rapidly evolve, fabrication and prototyping methods need to keep up with the changing needs as well. This dissertation contributes concepts and techniques that answer two research questions:
1. What type of prototyping processes and tools could support the rapidly evolving field of interactive technology?
2. How can these prototyping processes and tools be selected to add value to the broader community - one that includes engineers, designers, and hobbyists?
In this thesis, I will demonstrate that by using concepts inspired by various advanced manufacturing fields - such as MEMS, structural electronics, and flexible electronics - novel interaction modalities can be prototyped with commercially accessible materials. Electronics presented in this dissertation include circuit boards with mechanically functional shapes, non-emissive textile displays, and on-skin electronic devices. Moreover, this thesis also describes a web-based digital tool that allows users to free-form sketch basic circuits and also provides step-by-step fabrication and debugging guidance. Using this tool, users will be able to sketch, design, and prototype electronics with materials such as silver/graphite pen, conductive thread, paper, and fabric. We hope that this thesis will inspire the community to create innovative interactions that utilize readily available prototyping tools.