This paper presents ChainFORM: a linear, modular, actuated hardware system as a novel type of shape changing interface. Using rich sensing and actuation capability, this modular hardware system allows users to construct and customize a wide range of interactive applications. Inspired by modular and serpentine robotics, our prototype comprises identical modules that connect in a chain. Modules are equipped with rich input and output capability: touch detection on multiple surfaces, angular detection, visual output, and motor actuation. Each module includes a servo motor wrapped with a flexible circuit board with an embedded microcontroller.
This project was done at the MIT Media Lab Tangible Media Group (Ken Nakagaki and Hiroshi Ishii) and Responsive Environments Group (Artem Dementyev and Joe Paradiso) and in collaboration with Stanford Mechanical Engineering (Sean Follmer)