d.Flex: A Modular Rapid Electronics Prototyping System to Increase Design Flexibility for Technical Novices
PI: Prof. Sakti Srivastava
Tangible prototyping enables designers to rapidly iterate design concepts and gather feedback. However, when a higher level of functionality involving electronic components is needed, novices often struggle with technical implementation. The goal of this research is to enable novice designers to tangibly embody electronic design ideas through d.Flex, a modular prototyping system with heightened flexibility. Current novice electronic toolkits, such as Arduino, require significant knowledge in circuit creation and software programming, and tend to have ridged form factors that are less suited for rapid prototyping. In an effort to bridge the gap between highlevel abstraction and detailed circuit design, this research aims to equip designers who are novices in electronics, yet experts in a specialized field, with the tools needed to transform their electronics ideas into functional prototypes. Building on the d.Modular research platform, we propose a study to compare the use of d.Flex to an existing non-modular system for the design of an orthopedic assessment methodology, which requires increased flexibility and patient-specific customization. We hypothesize that d.Flex will decrease the (i) number of required steps, (ii) barrier to entry, and (iii) error rate associated with electronics prototyping, and (iv) enable the creation of more diverse and "body-friendly" prototypes.