By Robert Wendrich from Raw Shaping Technology I was commissioned to create a tangible user interface for a glassblowing like interactivity with the computer. This hybrid interface has great potential as an interface for an computer as human mouth output has a very high fidelity, and everyone is able to modulate it very precisely.
The device is based on an Arduino. The Arduino gathers data from several sensors and sends those wireless to the PC. The sensors chosen to give the user a glassblowing like experience are a pressure sensor and an air flow sensor. Both of these sensors are ranged for human mouth output and give fantastic output. The device is also equipped with a orientation sensor to send the orientation angle values of the device to the PC, this data can be used to simulate a virtual glass blowpipe.
The scope of this project involved a hardware prototype, and a software visualization. This visualization is just to show the data, it is not a full simulation of molten glass, as that would be beyond the scope of the project.
The software is divided into five different sections displaying the data in different ways. The visualization is written in the Processing language, a language made for graphical programming. The first display shows the data from the pressure and flow sensors in a graph, the second display shows a sphere showing a cumulative value based on the sensor values, this gives a sense of volume. The third display are just the latest numbers received, handy for debugging. The large display below shows a tube that is continually drawn using the latest data, its diameter is set by the pressure, flow or cumulative values. This visualization serves as a raw design tool, and shows using the data from the device is interesting and accurate enough to create shapes. These shapes can be recorded and exported as a mesh data file. This file can be opened in the 3D suite Blender with a script to further iterate the design. The final visualization is a bar representing the orientation of the device.
Below is a video presentation of the device, also going in detail over the internals.