Protopiper: Physically Sketching Room-Sized Objects at Actual Scale

Harshit Agrawal, Udayan Umapathi, Robert Kovacs, Johannes Frohnhofen, Hsiang-Ting Chen, Stefanie Mueller, Patrick Baudisch

In Proceedings of the 28th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software & Technology (UIST ’15).
full paper: ACM digital library, PDF

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Protopiper is a computer aided, hand-held fabrication device that allows users to sketch room-sized objects at actual scale. The key idea behind protopiper is that it forms adhesive tape into tubes as its main building material, rather than extruded plastic or photopolymer lines. Since the resulting tubes are hollow they offer excellent strength-to-weight ratio, thus scale well to large structures.

The device itself is an assembly line: the tape is drawn from the roll, shaped into a tube, sealed together, and finally cut off.

Protopiper provide the tubes with highly versatile wing connectors—one at each end. Wing connectors connect tubes to flat or curved surfaces, such as walls or ceilings, or other tubes.

Protopiper’s tubes also afford creating simple mechanisms. By creasing them, for example, users form hinges. Hinges allow for moving mechanisms, like the opening-closing umbrella.

Protopiper works equally well for freeform expression, such as the T-Rex sculpture.


Our presentation at UIST2015



Full Paper In Proceedings of the 28th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software & Technology (UIST ’15).
ACM digital library

GIZMODO article

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