UniSA researcher puts digital foam on ‘show and tell’

UniSA researcher Dr Ross Smith will be putting his digital foam technology on display for the public next month when the Mini Maker Faire comes to Adelaide for the first time on April 6.

The technology, which allows clay-like sculpting of physical ‘foam’ to instantly transform into 3D designs on the computer screen, will be one of many projects exhibiting as part of the large scale ‘show and tell’ event taking place at Adelaide College of the Arts in Light Square.

Dr Smith, who is based at UniSA’s Division of Information Technology, Engineering and the Environment, says the technology was developed at the University’s Wearable Computer Lab and has potential for a number of real world applications.

“Our digital foam sensor demonstration will allow the community to try out our new device. Instead of using a keyboard and mouse, digital foam allows clay-like sculpting with our fingers to create 3D models,” Dr Smith says.

“It recognizes and responds to touch and is designed to allow you to squash, pinch and poke its surface to create your own 3D designs.

“Many applications for digital foam are anticipated, from human-computer interfaces for mobile devices and home entertainment games controllers, to medical mannequins used for training surgeons and doctors.”

Dr Peter Schumacher, lecturer in Industrial Design at UniSA, will also be involved in the Mini Maker Faire, putting a variety of student work on display to show the community what Industrial Design is all about. 

“People may never have heard of Industrial Design, but anyone interested in making will love what we do,” Dr Schumacher says.

“We will be showing a range of student work focusing on the physical models we make to develop and test ideas. We will also have images of our digital and analogue workshop showing our facilities and making capabilities at the University.

“The practice of Industrial Design is based largely on learning by doing and making, so we have a natural affinity with the techniques, processes and aims of the Maker community.” 

An initiative of the ‘do it yourself’ magazine MAKE, the Adelaide Mini Maker Faire will be an interactive experience where attendees have the chance to explore the latest projects from a range of inventors, from backyard tinkerers to scientists.

“The Maker community is thriving with innovation and interesting demonstrations. Being able to engage with the community and share UniSA’s research is so important and it can lead to new collaborations,” Dr Smith says.

“Attendees can expect both a visual and hands on experience – there will be a range of previous and developing prototypes on display.”

Maker Faire originated in San Mateo in California and in 2012, it celebrated its seventh annual show with 800 makers and 110,000 people in attendance. 

The Mini Maker Faire Adelaide is a free public event, being presented by ANAT (Australian Network for Art and Technology) and taking place inside the Adelaide College of the Arts in Light Square on Saturday April 6, 10am-6pm.  

Media Contact

Rosanna Galvin office (08) 8302 0578 mobile 0434 603 457 email rosanna.galvin@unisa.edu.au

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