Replacing Analog Electronic Circuits with 3D Printed Plastic Components

(source: OFweek)

The human computer interaction Institute (HCI) of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Disney research launched a "acoustic instrument" cooperation program. Researchers used low-cost 3D printing plastic components to replace complex analog electronic circuits to create a variety of innovative plug-in accessories driven by acoustics for smart phones, such as expansion ports and other interesting expansion devices.

For the so-called "application" (APP) toys or the peripheral market of toys driven by smartphone app, it is experiencing a vigorous development trend. In fact, this is one of the fastest-growing technology fields. According to market watch.com, this market will bring billions of dollars in sales in 2015 and beyond, and is closely related to two billions of dollars in toy and mobile app industries.

Today, even the most humble smartphone expansion components are equipped with electronic circuits and control knobs to start circuits and transmit control signals to their connected phones. However, according to gierad laput, a doctoral candidate at Carnegie Mellon University, these accessories can actually be manufactured in a simpler and cheaper way. They do not have to be equipped with electronic circuits to achieve the same functional effect. Gierad laput is currently carrying out an investigation and Research on a new interface in the Institute of human-computer interaction of the University.

Like most app toys, laput is interested in the computing power of smart phones and rich display interfaces, which can be used for most work, while the user interface expansion function he actually built is built in the shape of some knobs, sliding bars or any other linear sensors without any electronic circuits. Laput uses the speaker of the smart phone as the analog signal source of ultrasound, and uses the low-cost plastic structure that can passively interact with sound waves as the user interface.

The microphone of the mobile phone receives the modulated ultrasound and interprets these changes as user input. At present, researchers use 100ms linear scanning in 16.50-22.05khz, but in a paper entitled acoustic instruments: passive, acoustically driven, interactive controls for handheld devices, he pointed out that in order to improve the resolution, As the sampling rate of handheld devices becomes higher and higher, the scanning rate and frequency range should also be greatly increased.

The word "acoustic instrument" comes from the combination of acoustic and instrument. It refers to the small instrument expansion component that can be attached around the smart phone to modulate the sound wave in a way similar to the resonance (resonant cavity) of musicians playing wind music (pressing the hole plug or flute hole).

In this article, the researchers describe how to design some structural elements that can be placed along the "speaker microphone" path to change the acoustic output characteristics. This process shapes a variety of different physical mechanisms, including small pipe diameters, deformable resonators, knobs that provide a variety of options for audio paths, and more practically converts all these mechanisms into a variety of different functions, such as knobs, sliding rods, proximity and pressure sensors, rotary encoders, or even tilt sensors.

This can expand many new applications for low-cost plastic non electronic app toys, enabling them to provide richer, tangible and interactive functions. Experiments show that this acoustic instrument can achieve 99% accuracy. It not only needs a little practice or training, but also is very anti noise. In order to prove this concept, the researchers also made an iPhone shell made of soft airway, which can recognize the position or state of the device itself when it is placed on the table, in the hand or for taking photos.

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