Shape-Changing Interfaces (SCI) is a research field that has increasingly gained attention within various design areas, yet technical challenges make it difficult for many designers to contribute and build functional prototypes without considerable training. This thesis explores the design space of SCI and presents findings with regard to creating toolkits that support exploration within SCI. We provide an outline of the SCI design space, design considerations for designing toolkits within SCI, with particular focus on a target group consisting of design researchers that have limited-to-no experience with or knowledge of electronics and programming, and lastly we present directions for future work. By applying a low floor, high ceiling, wide walls approach in a research through design focused process we investigate the requirements for a toolkit that provides easy exploration of SCI transition expressivity. The contributions provided in this thesis include a toolkit that supports exploration of transformations, the experiences gained from the toolkit design process, and design considerations for understanding human activity of designing shape-changing objects which also includes design considerations for good toolkits that support the activity such as supporting wide design possibilities, transition expressivity mapping, and spatial awareness, as well as considering the physical and digital interplay between artifacts. Furthermore, considerations for creating designer-supportive system architectures as well as the importance of learnability are presented. Our design considerations were qualified by a research through design approach that included an iterative SCI toolkit design process consisting of multiple prototypes, which involved interviewing several SCI students, architects, martial artists, animators and university professors, and evaluation of the prototypes with users from within our target group. The findings are then discussed in regard to known related work within SCI toolkits and commercial examples.
I wrote my masters thesis together with Kristoffer Winge, a highly skilled product developer and friend. He does some great independent work so you should definitely check him out here
Download my complete thesis here