A Pattern-Based Design Framework for Designing "Collaborative Environments"

Yixiao Wang, Keith Evan Green

TEI 2019

Communication theory suggests that people tend to interact with interactive artifacts as if these were human. For decades, this understanding has been applied to designing singular, embedded artifacts at a small physical scale. In this paper, we extend the same theory and practice to the dimension of space—to designing interactive, physical environments and their components. A conceptual ground for this is found in a “pattern language” developed by Alexander et al. for designing static physical environments. Upon this ground, we construct a systematic framework for designing “collaborative environments” shaped, as well, by our own concepts, Direct Mapping, Conveyed Mapping, and Space Agency, to strive for more human-human-like interactions between human beings and their physical surroundings. Our lab-based study generates a hypothetical design as qualitative validation of the framework, which has significance for designing tangible, embedded, and embodied interaction as it extends, inevitably, to the dimension of space, entertaining, serving, and augmenting us.

Designing Intelligent Spaces as if They Were Human:
A “Space Agent” Framework

Yixiao Wang, Keith Evan Green, Rod Grupen, Johnell Brooks, Ian D. Walker

IEEE UV 2018

In this paper, the authors offer a design framework based on our novel concept of “space agency” whereby observed human-human interaction is translated into human-machine Interaction for spatial artifacts by way of two mapping techniques. Our intention is to strive for more human-human like interactions between human beings and intelligent spaces whereby intelligent spaces become friendly, helpful, and welcoming. In this paper, the design of an interior space within a fully autonomous vehicle provides a case study. The framework presented here has significance for designing intelligent artifacts and interactions with them as these extend, inevitably, to the dimension of space, entertaining, serving, and augmenting our increasingly digital and human-centered society.

Design and Characterization of a Novel Robotic Surface for Application to Compressed Physical Environments

Yixiao Wang, Chase Frazelle, Richa Sirohi, Liheng Li, Ian D. Walker, and Keith E. Green


Developments of robot arms are countless, but there has been little focus on robot surfaces for the reshaping of a habitable space—especially compliant surfaces. In this paper we introduce a novel, tendon-driven, robot surface comprised of aggregated, overlapping panels organized in a herringbone pattern. The individual 3D-printed panels and their behavior as an aggregation are inspired by the form and behavior of a pinecone. This paper presents our concept, design, and realization of this robot, and compares our prototype to simulations of four physical configurations that are formally distinct and suggestive of how the surface might be applied to habitable, physical space in response to human needs and wants. For the four configurations studied, we found a validating match between prototype and simulations. The paper concludes with a consideration of potential applications for robot surfaces like this one.

Design and Characterization of a Novel, Continuum-Robot Surface for the Human Environment

Richa Sirohi, Yixiao Wang, Samantha Hollenberg, Isuru S. Godage, Ian D. Walker, and Keith Evan Green


We present a novel, robot form aimed at adaptively automating the shape and functionality of the human environment. While robots tend to be rigid-link, stiff objects when set within human environments, serving specific human objectives, they can also be compliant and give form to the physical environment and widen human activities within it. We introduce such a robot, a novel, tendon-driven, continuum robot surface we call a “Space Agent.” This paper presents our concept, design, and realization of the Space Agent. Experiments with this robot surface compare our prototype to our simulations of five spatial configurations that are formally distinct and suggestive of how the surface might be applied to habitable, physical space in response to human needs and wants. We found a validating match between prototype and simulations for the five configurations investigated. The paper concludes with a consideration of potential applications for robot surfaces like this one.

CoPRA: a Design Exemplar for Habitable, Cyber-physical Environment

Yixiao Wang, Keith E. Green

CHI 2016

This paper introduces the concept of “Compressed-Pattern, Robotic Architecture” (CoPRA) a design exemplar for purposeful, inhabitable, intelligent physical environments, spatially reconfigured by means of robotics. CoPRA is inspired by Christopher Alexander’s notion of a “Compressed-Pattern Architecture,” in which a single living space is reorganized to become many different, functional rooms. In our exemplar, however, this reorganization is not performed by inhabitants manually, but instead by robotics actuated in response to human activity. CoPRA represents a productive conceptual model for a growing research community within CHI focused at the interface of architectural design and embedded systems.

Design Interactions between Robot Surfaces and Human Designers

Yixiao Wang

TEI GSC 2019

This paper presents the rationale and current progress of my Ph.D. dissertation: “design interactions between robot surfaces and human designers.” This specific topic serves as a case study trying to explore the question of how to design an interactive and partially intelligent space. We proposed the concept of “space agent” defined as “interactive and intelligent environments perceived by users as human agents” based on communication theories. Built upon this concept, we proposed a design framework for interactive environments. Then we further explored literatures about what space agent could contribute to human users specifically for the case of interior designers’ work space. Research questions and research designs are introduced in this paper, followed by the discussions of experiments design.

A Case for Integrating a User-Centered Design Framework, Including Rapid Prototyping Techniques, into Architectural Design Studios

Yixiao Wang, Keith Evan Green

DCAC 2018

This paper presents the rationale of applying user-centered design as a pedagogical model in architectural design studios, based on the case of an undergraduate-level design course that focusses on user-centered, designresearch methods. In the case study, students are introduced to a series of design ideation strategies, user-centered design methods, and rapid prototyping techniques. A challenge in delivering such a course is the integration of the diverse and abundant bodies of knowledge into coherent class assignments and activities. The paper begins with a diagram that systematically communicates the logic behind the case-study curriculum, and then elaborates the details and relationships found in the diagram, including the various class activities aiming to help students internalize these interdisciplinary bodies of knowledge consistently.Following from the case study, we argue that design-research methods combined with the in-class activities of the case study have the potential to be productive to architecture studio courses, especially those having an interest in embedding new technologies into designed artifacts, making human interactions with them particularly complex.

Parametric intention: Embodying a Thorough Design Ideology

Troy Mock, Yixiao Wang, So-Yeon Yoon

DCAC 2018

The parametric design method differs from more predictable paths of form representation because it follows logic structures based on modularity and systemized thinking. Introducing parametric modeling to existing design curriculum necessitates an alternate way of thinking based on input-output logic. Despite its promising potential of scale, materiality, and context in the field of interior design, parametric design has not been widely incorporated into interior design curriculum. In this paper, we propose a three to four-week module within an intermediate level design studio, offering both the introduction and implementation of parametric modeling with feasible scale exercises including a partition, wall treatment, and 3D standalone installation. The module aims to build student understanding of logic-based thinking and encourage further exploration of the parametric design method.

A Research Though Design Exemplar of a “Compressed-Pattern Robotic Architecture” for the Information Age

Yixiao Wang, Keith Evan Green

ACSA 2016

This paper presents a design exemplar of "Compressed-Pattern Robotic Architecture" as "Research through Design" (RtD) report, which clearly shows the design iterations and improvements. This paper is for the audiences from architect communities, who is more focused on the design iterations than technical details. This paper also functions as a test to communicate robotic structures and designs in an architectural, spatial, and familiar way to the design communities. With the help of robotic technologies, multiple design patterns could be realized within one space at different time. In other words, our design focus on the robotic and reconfigurable space which is the one space becoming many spaces.

The networked, robotic home furniture suite: A distributed, assistive technology facilitating aging in place

Carlos Henrique De Aguiar, Reza Fateminasab, Chase G. Frazelle, Ryan Scott, Yixiao Wang,
Michael B. Wooten, Keith E. Green, and Ian D. Walker


We introduce and detail a novel, networked and interoperative suite of robotic furniture. This suite forms a key part of our development of home+, an assistive technology environment aimed at supporting aging in place. This paper elaborates the design and construction process for the three robotic furniture core elements of home+: a chair, featuring gesture-controlled assistive lift; a morphing side table; and an adaptive screen. The sensor suite, networking, and user interface for the system is described and discussed. We report on initial experiments with senior citizens using the system.

Design and Evaluation of Two Robotic Furnishings Partnering with Each Other and Their Users to Enable Independent Living

Verma Siddharth, Phanideep Gonthina, Zachary Hawks, Dixit Nahar, Johnell O. Brooks, Ian D. Walker, Yixiao Wang, Carlos De Aguiar, and Keith E. Green

PervasiveHealth 2018

We introduce a pair of domestic, robotic furnishings aimed at improving the ability of people to live and work independently. The robotic pair–a mobile, robot-cube and a continuum-robotic lamp– work together with their human cohabitants to perform routine tasks of daily living enumerated in the ‘CS-PFP10’ protocol used by rehabilitation therapists to evaluate the capacity for independent living. The iterative design and basic behaviors of the robot pair are considered in this paper, as are results from a formative user evaluation involving older adults and a second study involving twelve clinical staff from a rehabilitation hospital. Finally, we offer recommendations that generalize to related efforts. As robots will inevitably become part of domestic routines, reporting on this robot pair serves as a design exemplar for future development of domestic robots that enable and dignify older individuals.

Can Interactive Systems Be Designed
for Conviviality? A Case Study

Choueiri Marc, Schuyler Duffy, Sanjay Guria, Conrad Mccarthy, Pehuen Moure, Anagha Todalbagi, Yixiao Wang, Carlos Henrique Araujo De Aguiar, and Keith Evan Green

DIS 2018

Can interactive systems be designed for conviviality? A response in the affirmative comes in the form of two convivial tools, Helping Hand and Tilting Table, that empower individuals suffering limitations in reaching and dexterity. Our interdisciplinary team developed Helping Hand and Tilting Table as analogues to a home builder’s power tools, but here advanced by mechatronics and transported to home and workplace. This paper presents the two tools in the context of routine, domestic and working tasks, speaks to their design and basic behaviors, and offers an overview of their formative user evaluation involving older adults as part of an iterative, human-centered design process. Helping Hand and Tilting Table serve as design exemplars of enabling technologies targeting people with limitations in performing everyday tasks. But more broadly, striving for conviviality is what this paper hopes to encourage in designers.

Are Space-making Robots, Agents? Investigations on User Perception of an Embedded Robotic Surface

Yixiao Wang, François Guimbretière, and Keith Evan Green

RO-MAN 2020

Novel, “space-making” robots have potential to redefine physical space and the human activities occurring in it. Categorically distinct from many robots and far removed from humanoids, space-making robots are not objects in space, not anthropomorphic, not animal-like, not mobile, but instead, integral with the physical environment, embedded in or forming walls, ceilings, floors, partitions, vehicle interiors, and building envelopes. Given their distinctiveness, space-making robots offer a novel human-machine interaction. This paper investigates whether users perceive space-making robots as agents—artificial social actors characterized by the capacity for intelligence, recognition, and intention. Results of an in-lab experiment with 11 participants and an online, between-group experiment with 120 participants show that people attribute established agency metrics of intelligence, intention, recognition, cooperation, collaboration, friendliness, and welcome to our reconfigurable robotic surface embedded in a wall partition. While space-making robots may become numerous in the built environment, our results are significant, moreover, for their broader implications for conceptualizing and designing human-machine interactions.