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'cardboardizer' Allows ­sers to Create Robotic Models in Minutes

By Purdue ­niversity News

May 17, 2016

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The CardBoardiZer system developed at Purdue University and presented at last week's ACM CHI 2016 conference in San Jose, CA, enables beginning designers to transform static three-dimensional (3D) objects into moving robotic versions fashioned from materials that include cardboard, wood, and sheet metal.

"We wanted to create a system that's much easier to use than other design programs, which are too complicated for the average person to learn," says Purdue professor Karthik Ramani. He notes, for example, an object such as a plastic dinosaur with immovable parts can be laser-scanned and then converted into a folding cardboard version with moving head, mouth, limbs, and tail.

Ramani says CardBoardiZer turns objects into flat versions similar to a tailor's dress patterns. "Then I can cut it, fold it, and give it motion where I want," he notes. Once a shape is worked out, the models can be motorized via the Ziro product, which uses motorized "joint modules" outfitted with wireless communicators and micro-controllers. The user can control the robots with hand gestures while wearing a wireless "smart glove." Ramani thinks this method could potentially substitute for, and surmount the limitations of, 3D printing.

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