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Madeline Gannon is a researcher, designer, and educator at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Architecture Tactumwhere she’s completing work as a PhD candidate in Computational Design. She’s also the principal at the design collective Madlab.cc, and their latest project, Tactum, represents an entirely new interface for creating 3D printed objects.

The work was funded by Autodesk Research, and Tactum is software that lets a user manipulate digital information which is projected onto the surface of the human body.

Video projectors shine a visual representation of data onto a user’s forearm. Motion sensors like Leap Motion and Microsoft Kinect can then track the movements of the opposing hand as it interrupts and changes the projected pattern.

Tactum “uses your body as the physical canvas for digital design,” says Madlab.cc says. “We track arm, hand, and touch gestures to capture tactile interactions with a person’s skin. We can then use this information to generate and manipulate 3D form that’s projected directly on to the body.”

As you run a finger across the projection on your forearm, the pattern changes in response to the input from your finger.setup_parametric

It’s essentially a 3D modeling tool which allows the creation of customized, wearable objects which can then be 3D printed with the data stored during the process.

Madlab.cc says they’re exploring computational approaches to architecture, craft, and interaction, and their work merges disciplinary knowledge from architecture, robotics, computer science, human-computer interaction, and design “to explore the edges of digital creativity.”

generative_blankThey say projects like Tactum are “tangible artifacts for testing digital processes that connect analog-digital and human-machine contexts.”

“Today, we tend to design wearables in virtual CAD environments that ignore the body,” Gannon told Motherboard. “For designers, this means that there is a lot of guess work as to how a digital design might behave on a physical body. So what if, instead, we could remove all this guesswork, and just digitally design these wearables directly on the body?”

According to Gannon, the work on Tactum began in June 2014, and she says the full impact of the idea is yet to be explored.

“We arep articularly excited about the medical possibilities for our system,” Gannon said. “For example, through our prototypes, we see the potential for doctors or physical therapists to rapidly customize braces or casts based on the patients week-by-week rehabilitation.”

As for the details of Tactum, a Casio XJA251 projector is used to extract a user’s “natural gestures–gestures which don’t require specific training” to drive a 3D modeling software which includes technical 3D printing constraints embedded within the geometry. The combination of hardware and software means that no matter how much a user manipulates the digital geometry input, the resulting designs generated are “guaranteed to be 3D printable.”

What do you think about the Tactum project? Can you see applications for this kind of freeform design software and hardware suite? Let us know in the Tactum forum thread on 3DPB.com.

[Via: Motherboard]

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