Shape-changing artifacts refer to physical changes in material forms as inputs or outputs of computing. The HCI community has a growing interest in crafting unique shape-changing artifacts that create novel interactions. One research thread is the creation of shape-changing materials and interfaces with functional and utilitarian aims. Another thread is to design shape-changing artifacts that support experiential behaviours in-situ. For instance, Everitt and colleagues crafted a shape-changing display named ShapeCanvas to generate experiential animations by novice users in a café. Grönval et al. assembled a shape-changing bench to cultivate people’s interpretive experiences in different public spaces. Park and colleagues added a shape-changing feature to a mobile device to enhance visual-tactile experiences. These works influenced our investigations of crafting shape-changing objects that support lived interactions and experiences.
deformTable is a shape-changing device that rises up and down according to the weight of objects placed on its top surface. The input interface, so to speak, of deformTable, is its wooden top that can detect weights ranging from 20 grams to 5 kg. The output surface is an elastic fabric upholstered to the physical form of deformTable, which emphasizes how the dynamic shape changes in form. The fabric is white-coloured 4-way stretch spandex with hollowed dot patterns. The power supply of deformTable is an adapter with 12V and 2A DC output. The table would change shape in response to as little as 10 grams in weight to a maximum of 5 kilograms. The distance of vertical change is 10 centimetres.
We purposefully added a counterfactual feature to deformTable that we felt would encourage creative appropriations of the artifact keeping it from being solely utilitarian or functional . Specifically, deformTable rises when heavy objects are placed on top and lowers when the weight on its surface lessens. We also left the space between the fabric and the structure of the table to leverage the inherent shape-change possibilities of fabric in a way that we felt nurtured a sense of new possibilities and the unknown.