Ubiquitous computing has long explored design through the conceptual separation of digital and physical materials. We describe how the emergence of the fabrication community in HCI will challenge these conceptual principles. The idea of digital material in ubicomp ‘hides’ lower level abstractions such as physical architectures and materials from designers. As new fabrication techniques make these abstractions accessible to makers, physical materials are being used to encode digital functionality. Form (traditionally physical) and function (traditionally digital) can be mutually expressed within material design. We outline how emerging printed electronics techniques will enable functional fabrication, current limitations and opportunities for end-user fabrication of functional devices, and implications for new principles that emphasise combined physical design of form and function.
Mike Fraser, Jingqi Liu, Jenna Shapiro, Joshua Taylor, and Aluna Everitt. 2019. Digital -is- Physical: How Functional Fabrication Disrupts Ubicomp Design Principles. In Proceedings of the Halfway to the Future Symposium 2019 (HTTF 2019), November 19–20, 2019, Nottingham, United Kingdom. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 5 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/1122445.1122456