Digital fabrication tools have transformed how people work in micro- and small-scale manufacturing settings. While increasing efficiency and precision, these tools raise concerns around user agency and control. This paper describes an exploratory study investigating the felt work experience and desired futures of professionals who use fabrication tools. We conducted co-design workshops with 23 professionals who use 3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC routers. We probed about current practices; machine awareness and autonomy; and user agency. Our findings reveal that current tools are not very professional. They are unreliable and untrustworthy. Participants desired smarter tools that can actively prevent errors and perform self-calibration and self-maintenance. They had few concerns that more intelligence would impact agency. They desired tools that could negotiate trade-offs between time, cost, and quality; and that can operate as super-human shop assistants. We discuss the implications of these findings as opportunities for research that can improve professionals' work experience.
Materials are dynamic—they can be shaped and changed. Often however, our tools and technologies appear to fix materials in place. Disassembly is one practice that provides openings to explore and understand the dynamic nature of material. In this research, we investigate possibilities that emerge from disassembly. Specifically, we studied how novices disassembled a common digital artifact—desktop printers. We worked with 21 young people and family members across two evening workshops at a middle school. We report on the workshop interactions, categories of actions of disassembly, and four in-depth vignettes showcasing disassembly in action. In the discussion, we reflect on disassembly and permission, sustainability, the joy of disassembling, and design considerations in support of disassembly. Our contributions include: (1) extending existing theoretical framings about artifacts and materials; (2) an empirical study documenting the process by which novices disassemble; and (3) preliminary design and policy considerations that enable disassembly.
The rise of maker communities and fabrication tools creates new opportunities for participation in design work. With this has come an interest in increasing the accessibility of making for people with disabilities, which has mainly emphasized independence and empowerment through the creation of more accessible fabrication tools. To understand and rethink the notion of accessible making, we analyze the context and practices of a particular site of making: the communal weaving studio within an assisted living facility for people with vision impairments. Our analysis helps reconsider the material and social processes that constitute accessible making, including the ways makers attend to interactive material properties, negotiate co-creative embodied work, and value the labor of making. We discuss future directions for design and research on accessible making while highlighting tensions around assistance, collaboration, and how disabled labor is valued.
A core challenge in tabletop research is to support transitions between individual activities and team work. Shape-changing tabletops open up new opportunities for addressing this challenge. However, interaction design for shape-changing furniture is in its early stages - so far, research has mainly focused on triggering shape-changes, and less on the actual interface transitions. We present KirigamiTable - a novel actuated shape-changing tabletop for supporting transitions in collaborative work. Our work builds on the concept of Proxemic Transitions, considering the dynamic interplay between social interactions, interactive technologies and furniture. With KirigamiTable, we demonstrate the potential of interactions for proxemic transitions that combine transformation of shape and digital contents. We highlight challenges for shape-changing tabletops: initiating shape and content transformations, cooperative control, and anticipating shape-change. To address these challenges, we propose a set of novel interaction techniques, including shape-first and content-first interaction, cooperative gestures, and physical and digital preview of shape-changes.
Cross-device interactions enable ad hoc sharing of content and control in co-located collaboration. Cross-device research often draws from proxemics theory for designing interactions based on detection of spatial relations such as distance and orientation between people and devices. However, detection of human-human or human-device proximity also constrains flexibility in co-located social interaction. We suggest a proxemics-based approach to designing flexible cross-device interactions. From observations in a field study, we articulate how co-located sharing practices are shaped by the interplay between everyday mobile devices and the physical environment. Based on these insights, we present three cross-device prototypes as proofs-of-concept, demonstrating three design sensitivities for considering proxemics beyond proximity; incorporating features in the environment, enabling flexibility in interpersonal distance and orientation, and providing multiple alternative action possibilities. Drawing from characteristics of our prototypes, we discuss concrete proposals for designing cross-device interactions to enable flexible social interaction.