InFORM at the MIT Media Lab


 
 

InFORM at the MIT Media Lab

inFORM, is a project from the MIT Media Lab’s Tangible Media Group. The project is an advanced shape display which uses hundreds of motorized elements to create form. Members for the project reached out during the early stages of development to help with the motor control.

I served as a consultant for the project and helped develop several aspects of the design. As part of the early brainstorming process, I was able to suggest several design patterns such as the use of flexible tubing as a way to shrink the display into a tight form factor. My main contribution was designing the motor controller used in the display,

The inFORM display uses nearly 1000 motors to operate, all of which are connected to a computer that communicates over RS-485. Ethernet cables were used to enable high speed differential signaling, and each motor controller is responsible for actuating six motors, using a modified version of PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) control.

Technical considerations for the design include DC motor control systems, high speed communication, ground plane isolation, H-bridge selection, surge protection circuits, power supply design, PCB manufacturing, and thermal dissipation. I was responsible for the motor controller and the firmware used on the controller.