Evengy Stemasov, member of the research group human-computer interaction, discusses his PhD thesis project.
Personal computing has transformed society by providing industry-grade computing capabilities to endusers: complex, expensive, and expert-only mainframes turned into ubiquitous devices that are essential to a vast user audience. In the context of personal fabrication, users recently gained access to industry-level tools and processes to design and manufacture arbitrary physical artifacts. While computing evolved its interaction paradigms towards more approachable interfaces (i.e., from command lines to graphical user interfaces), personal fabrication still enforces a paradigm of ex-situ design, fabrication, and iteration, until a satisfying result is achieved. Devices like 3D printers are becoming more approachable, yet designing for them remains a highly complex task: users have to tie together a multitude of disciplines (e.g., engineering, design). Subsequently, personal fabrication is a powerful opportunity, yet it predominantly remains employed by hobbyists and enthusiasts.
This thesis aims to resolve the tensions between potentially highly expressive fabrication (i.e., output) devices and the complex design (i.e., input) tools they demand — how do we reconcile low-effort interactions with a potentially unlimited physical output space? To answer this question, the thesis initially presents a theoretical framework, which encompasses design tools for personal fabrication following the process model ranging from design, over fabrication, to the use of the result. Specifically, the framework classifies the effort and expressivity of systems, formalizing three main paradigms of physical artifact design: "modeling", "remixing", and "getting". Most established design tools focus on the "modeling" paradigm, where users routinely re-design existing objects on their way to their finished design, which demands, often unnecessary, effort. The core of the thesis, therefore, focuses on (a) partially, (b) entirely omitting, or (c) fundamentally altering steps of modeling by relying on outsourced design effort to enable low-effort interactions. This approach is manifested in the development and evaluation of several prototype systems which deliberately rethink the notion of design for personal fabrication.
The thesis concludes with proposing the broader vision of "ubiquitous personal fabrication", where the notion of digitally-supported craft and manufacturing is woven into everyday life, akin to digital content creation enabled through ubiquitous computing. In this context, we may see a future where anyone can create highly personalized artifacts that suit their unique contextual, aesthetic, and functional needs without precisely defining every single detail of the artifact, empowering a broad range of users, regardless of their motivation and proficiency, to engage in design activities.
We invite all interested persons to listen and discuss his research.