Setting the Tone for a More Efficient Prototype Methodology

Human beings are known for a myriad of different things, but most importantly, they are known for getting better on a consistent basis. This tendency to improve, no matter the situation, has brought the world some huge milestones, with technology appearing as quite a major member of the group. The reason why we hold technology in such a high regard is, by and large, predicated upon its skill-set, which guided us towards a reality that nobody could have ever imagined otherwise. Nevertheless, if we look beyond the surface for a second, it will become clear how the whole runner was also very much inspired from the way we applied those skills across a real world environment. The latter component, in fact, did a lot to give the creation a spectrum-wide presence, and as a result, initiate a full-blown tech revolution. Of course, this revolution then went on to scale up the human experience through some outright unique avenues, but even after achieving a feat sol notable, technology will somehow continue to bring forth the right goods. The same has turned more and more evident in recent times, and assuming a new discovery ends up with the desired impact, it will only put that trend on a higher pedestal moving forward.

The researching team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has successfully developed a new-age breadboard called FlexBoard, which is designed to ensure rapid prototyping of objects with interactive sensors, actuators, and displays on curved and deformable surfaces like a ball or clothes. Now, while these plastic boards that can hold together electronic elements during the prototyping process have been around for a long time, they have remained restricted to being stiff and slow. As a way to solve the stated problem, the researchers created a framework where they used a thin plastic that connects two pieces of the same material to enhance flexibility. Furthermore, each breadboard is understood to be usable and adhesive, something that should indicate its ability to withstand repeated bending in both upward and downward directions without detaching itself from the prototypes it was tested on. Carrying such great flexibility, FlexBoard makes for an ideal option when it comes to working alongside items with curved designs. This, in simple words, bolsters the device’s utility across experiments that focus on developing hardware for new electronic items. Another interesting application would be in and around the virtual reality space. You see, by leveraging FlexBoard’s flexibility, we can add a collision warning system on the controllers so to alert players wearing a VR headset when they risk bumping into their surroundings. As for gloves, there is a possibility to add sensors and motors into them for capturing gestures and influencing players’ in-game interactions.

“A fundamental development in our modern world is that we can interact with digital content everywhere and anytime, which is enabled through ubiquitous interactive devices,” said Michael Wessely, the author of this research and a recent postdoc at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). FlexBoard supports the design of these devices by being a versatile and rapid interaction prototyping platform. Our platform also enables designers to quickly test different configurations of sensors, displays, and other interactive components, which might lead to faster product development cycles and more user-friendly and accessible designs.”

To test out their device, researchers used the FlexBoard in conjunction with kettlebells. After discovering the viability of attaching the two things, they added sensors and LEDs to the kettlebells, a move that successfully detected whether users were applying the correct form to their swing workouts. This mechanism, for instance, should make your workout much more intuitive. Referencing to FlexBoard’s use cases, the team sees the FlexBoard being used to smarten up kitchen tools, furniture, and other household items. This versatility comes from how you can use those long breadboard strips in their original form or you can cut them into smaller segments for items of limited size. Rounding up FlexBoard’s value proposition is the fact that you can replicate its design through a simplistic off-the-shelf 3D printer.

Despite the immense potential, though, the researchers have indicated a awareness that their platform needs better bendability, durability, and strength through multi-material printing. Furthermore, considering FlexBoard is created to be compatible with FDM printers, it faces a constant problem of length limitations and print time. With improvements expected across the stated space, there are genuine reasons to be excited about the future.



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