BitDrones: Design of a Tangible Drone Swarm as a Programmable Matter Interface
This thesis details the design and functionality of BitDrones, a programmable matter interface (PMI) composed of micro cuboid drones. Each self-levitating BitDrone represented a tangible voxel and possessed four degrees of freedom to position itself in three dimensions and control its orientation about the z-axis. A single BitDrone consisted of a custom designed quadcopter suspended inside a carbon fiber wireframe cube with onboard RGB LEDs for illumination. As a swarm, these drones formed a human-computer interface that could be physically manipulated via manual user input as a Real Reality Interface (RRI). RRIs render interactive digital experiences via the manipulation of physical matter but faced several functional limitations until now. Historically, RRI elements were not self-levitating and could only create structurally stable models, or such elements had self-levitating capabilities but were not tangible and could only create sparse three-dimensional models. The spatial independence, tangibility and self-motility of each BitDrone voxel granted more versatility than previous RRIs, and this versatility enabled BitDrones to meet the functional criteria of a PMI as defined in the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) literature. This work presents the evolving design of the BitDrones, the key components of the computational architecture that governed the system, as well as the tangible interactions, tools and controllers designed to use the BitDrones display. Several academic explorations over the development timeline are also presented which were completed as the BitDrones system matured.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/26555
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