Practical Structural Design and Control for Digital Clay
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Digital Clay is a next generation human-machine communication interface based on a tangible haptic surface. This thesis embraces this revolutionary concept and seeks to give it a physical embodiment that will confirm its feasibility and enable experimentation relating to its utility and possible improvements. Per the approach adopted in work, Digital Clay could be described as a 3D monitor whose pixels can move perpendicularly to the screen to form a morphing surface. Users can view, touch and modify the shape of the working surface formed by these pixels. In reality, the pixels are the tips of micro hydraulic actuators or Hapcel (i.e. haptic cell, since the Digital Clay supports the haptic interface). The user can get a feel of the desired material properties when he/she touches the working surface. The potential applications of Digital Clay cover a wide range from computer aided engineering design to scientific research to medical diagnoses, 3D dynamic mapping and entertainment. One could predict a future in which, by using Digital Clay, not only could the user watch an actor in a movie, but also touch the face of the actor! This research starts from the review of the background of virtual reality. Then the concept and features of the proposed Digital Clay is provided. Research stages and a 5x5 cell array prototype are presented in this thesis on the structural design and control of Digital Clay. The first stage of the research focuses on the design and control of a single cell system of Digital Clay. Control issues of a single cell system constructed using conventional and off-the-shelf components are discussed first in detail followed by experimental results. Then practical designs of micro actuators and sensors are presented. The second stage of the research deals with the cell array system of Digital Clay. Practical structural design and control methods are discussed which are suitable for a 100x 100 (even 1000X 1000) cell array. Conceptual design and detailed implementations are presented. Finally, a 5 x 5 cell array prototype constructed using the discussed design solutions for testing is presented.