Amid the hype of 3-D printers like MakerBot, Disney researchers in Pittsburgh have released research and a new concept that combines 3-D printers and optics to revolutionize the way in which objects interact with users. Scientists Karl D.D. Willis, Eric Brockmeyer, Scott E. Hudson, and Ivan Poupyrev are using solid-state prototypes with geometrically designed internal patterns to channel light from an LED source, transporting optical and sensory information. What this means is touch sensitive objects can be designed with sensors and other components embedded into the design. Instead of assembling individual parts to create working technology, all of the technological capabilities would be printed into the object in layers.
The researchers see the potential for updated objects, such as digital chess boards with sensors embedded in the pieces and gameboard, new interactive children’s toys, controllers that sense touch and unique LED light sources. For a more detailed explanation of Disney’s findings, read their research report.
View some of the prototype designs in the gallery below:
Pictures via Disney Research