RetroFab: A Design Tool for Retrofitting Physical Interfaces using Actuators, Sensors and 3D Printing


We present RetroFab, an end-to-end design and fabrication environment that allows non-experts to retrofit physical interfaces. Our approach allows for changing the layout and behavior of physical interfaces. Unlike customizing software interfaces, physical interfaces are often challenging to adapt because of their rigidity. With RetroFab, a new physical interface is designed that serves as a proxy interface for the legacy controls that are now operated using actuators. RetroFab makes this concept of retrofitting devices available to non-experts by automatically generating an enclosure structure from an annotated 3D scan. This enclosure structure holds together actuators, sensors as well as components for the redesigned interface. To allow retrofitting a wide variety of legacy devices, the RetroFab design tool comes with a toolkit of 12 components. We demonstrate the versatility and novel opportunities of our approach by retrofitting five domestic objects and exploring their use cases. Additionally a preliminary study reports on the experience of retrofitting devices with RetroFab.

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