Ty Van de Zande, a senior in the Environments track at the Carnegie Mellon University's School of Design, recently had the opportunity to present his research at the 2017 ACM International Conference on Interactive Surfaces and Spaces, held this past October in Brighton, UK.
Ty's research, Printerface: Screen Printed Electroluminescent Touch Interface, is driven by his desire to integrate digital communications and interactions into an environment that might be more thematically appropriate than a conventional screen.
"Printerface proposes a visual design technique to create branded and interactive icons that may be applied to paper, textile, and wood substrates," said Van de Zande. "The icons are screen printed electroluminescent and conductive inks. The capabilities of this technology allow new notification and interactive possibilities for flexible interfaces."
Interaction with other researchers at the conference was a notable/crucial/integral part of his experience there.
"Everyone was passionate about their projects, and loved answering questions about how the technology works," added Van de Zande.
He noted that most of the projects presented at the conference were very different than his research and engaging with them gave him hundreds of new ideas for his own project.
"Presenting in Brighton, UK, was so real," he said. "Researchers displayed and let me use working prototypes of technology depicted in sci-fi movies (food levitation devices, programmable metal circuits, etc)."
Moving forward, Van de Zande plans to continue developing screen printed circuitry while finishing his senior year in the School of Design. He believes that the current commercial market has low demand for textile-based interfaces and intends to use the time to further streamline his work.
When asked what other undergrads looking to have their research funded should do, Van de Zande said, "Start with small grants to develop proof of concepts, then apply for larger grants once your project is semi-established. Limit the scope of your project-execution as much as you can (while keeping the project interesting), but also document how it may connect with a large-scope system."
"Have lots of people read your proposal and take their feedback!"
Van de Zande also credits the funding sources that made this opportunity possible.
"Thank you to the organizations at CMU who made this opportunity possible: Stephanie Wallach at the Undergraduate Research Office for SURG, SURF, & Presentation Award contributions; Golan Levin at the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry for the Art @ Frontier contribution; Terry Irwin at School of Design; Peter Scupelli at Learning Environments Lab; and Dan Lockton at Imaginaries Lab."