Recent advances in technology, especially the development of new materials and smaller actuators, have yielded dynamic and interactive surfaces. However, while artists and designers possess numerous techniques and tools to improve the physical appearance of an object’s surface, similar methods for designing the dynamic and interactive properties of the emergent surfaces are lacking. This thesis explores actuated pixels, a new class of computer-controlled material with kinetic properties, as a potential building material for interactive kinetic surfaces.
In the first part of the thesis, we propose an interaction model of actuated pixels. Adapted from the Model-Control-Representation-(intangible and tangible) model of tangible user interfaces, our model shows how actuated pixels can be represented and controlled through their three computational properties, i.e., compositeness, transitiveness, and programmability. The model can be used to both analyze existing systems and synthesize new design ideas, helping to draw attention to less explored areas.
In the second part of the thesis, we propose a series of research implementations that are designed to explore the interaction model. First, we develop the Shade Pixel to investigate how the combination of physical material and kinetic motion creates aesthetic expressions. In particular, the Shade Pixel demonstrates how the transitive ability of actuated pixels makes unobtrusive and aesthetically pleasing kinetic expressions possible. Second, using Kinetic Tiles and Kinetic I/O Tiles, we explore the programming methods that exploit the physicality and kinetic behavior of actuated pixels. Using the prototypes, we propose a new form of actuated pixel that is spatially reconfigurable and temporally programmable, and demonstrate how users can manipulate directly the choreographic elements of actuated pixels in the creation of kinetic animations.
In the last part of the thesis, we share the results from an exploratory u...