Trigger Action Circuits: Leveraging Generative Design to Enable Novices to Design and Build Circuitry

AbstractThe dramatic decrease in price and increase in availability of hobbyist electronics has led to a wide array of embedded and interactive devices. While electronics have become more widespread, developing and prototyping the required circuitry for these devices is still difficult, requiring knowledge of electronics, components, and programming. In this paper, we present Trigger-Action-Circuits (TAC), an interactive system that leverages generative design to produce circuitry, firmware, and assembly instructions, based on high-level, behavioural descriptions. TAC is able to generate multiple candidate circuits from a behavioural description, giving the user a number of alternative circuits that may be best suited to their use case (e.g., based on cost, component availability or ease of assembly). The generated circuitry uses off-the-shelf, commodity electronics, not specialized hardware components, enabling scalability and extensibility. TAC supports a range of common components and behaviors that are frequently required for prototyping electronic circuits. A user study demonstrated that TAC helps users avoid problems encountered during circuit design and assembly, with users completing their circuits significantly faster than with traditional methods.

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