About the Innovator

The Interactive Systems Lab in Lancaster University’s School of Computing and Communications is creative and experimental, spans the design of novel hardware and software, and applies rigorous evaluation methodologies to advance the understanding of interactive technologies and their use.  Dr. Alexander’s team focuses on bridging the digital-physical divide through novel shape-changing displays (screens with reconfigurable physical geometry). They prototype new display technologies, examine application domains, develop new methodologies and tools for content creation, and design, implement, and evaluate interaction techniques.

What is the innovation

The FET-open GHOST project has developed a range of novel shape-changing display technology. ShapeClip is a hardware tool that makes it significantly easier to design shape changing computer interfaces.  It allows non-technical users (such as designers) to prototype these systems in hours, rather than the months it previously took skilled experts. This ease of engagement will empower more people to engage with emerging technologies. ShapeClip is a prototype that has received intense interest from research, maker, robotics, and hobbyist communities.

An image of Shapeclip
An image of Shapeclip

Out of the lab – Into the Market

ShapeClip is a prototype tool that is immediately suitable for researchers and makers to adopt. With additional safety features children and the general public will also be able to use ShapeClip to explore and build shape-changing computer interfaces. To facilitate this process, we have made the technology fully open-source. The Lancaster team has partnered with an SME (H&E Inventions, Manchester, UK) for experimental product integration; one example is to use ShapeClips to simulate the tension in a patient’s torso for remote diagnosis. Over the coming year we intend to pursue development, marketing, and sales relationships with established electronics/robotics companies for rapid market adoption.

Benefits of participation in the Framework Programme

Lancaster University’s Interactive Systems Lab has a strong emerging technologies mandate, spanning both hardware and software development. The structure of the framework and the flexibility it provided positioned science at the forefront in a way that advanced the academic field whilst offering commercial interests new opportunities. The framework facilitated Lancaster in recruiting a highly-skilled and inventive team that had the freedom to experiment and discover the next generation of user interface paradigms.