Ph.D. Proposal Presentation by Haihong Zhu
Friday, December 3, 2004

(Dr. Wayne Book, Chair)

"Practical Structure Design and Control of Digital Clay"


Digital Clay is a proposed novel device for human machine interface with 3D surface shape and haptic effects. It consists of arrays of hydraulically actuated cells. Control valves of cells are connected to two pressure reservoirs in a manner ultimately suitable to an implementation in MEMS technology. Like ordinary clay, digital clay will allow an area of moderate size to be touched, reshaped with pressure, and viewed by the user in a three-dimensional form. Unlike ordinary clay, digital clay also provides parameters to the computer that will represent the shape to the computer for further analysis, storage, replication, communication and/or modification. Digital Clay will also allow the computer to prescribe its shape. The potential applications of Digital Clay cover a wide range from computer aided engineering design, scientific research to medical diagnostics, 3D dynamic mapping, and entertainment.

In this proposal, basic concepts on the practical structure design and fundamental control methods are presented. Experiment results are given for preliminary evaluation of the proposed system, signal processing and control methods. More specifically, structures of Digital Clay are proposed and evaluated; signal processing problems are revealed and potential solutions are given; the low level control method that deals with single cell control problems and part of the middle level control that deals with the cell-cell interaction are proposed.