Tangible Design: An Actuated Approach to Convert Virtual Form Into Physical Form

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Computer interface is increasingly essential to visualize the design of buildings. Virtual reality involves a direct or indirect view of a real world object/idea with computer-generated information; however visualization of the constructed form(s) is still in a virtual environment. Conversion of virtual design into a physical form before execution can help all project stakeholders to visualize the design and have further meaningful discussions regarding the project. This research demonstrates the creation of a physical 3D model generated from a virtual design model. The research utilizes linear actuators combined with appropriate electrical/electronic equipment to generate the physical model by establishing a tangible user interface. A tangible user interface (TUI) is a user interface in which a person interacts with digital information through the physical environment. The purpose of TUI development is to empower collaboration, learning, and design by giving physical forms to digital information, thus taking advantage of human abilities of grasp and manipulate physical objects and materials. In order to demonstrate ideas, designers create expensive and time-consuming physical models from materials such as Balsa wood or thick cardboard. This research output can assist project stakeholders to visualize aspects of design in a physical model that can be created on the fly through the use of electronics as an exploratory implementation of small scale robotics.