Prototyping during the early design phases has become an essential part of conceptualization and product development. Recent advances in digital design tools have enabled active user participation in the design process and direct interaction with prospective products. Despite the rapid advancements in prototyping, immediate prototyping methods remain unavailable. Creating a working prototype and evaluating its user interactions is an effective design strategy. If a prototype can be created immediately for designers to sensorially experience a model, they can test and simulate various design ideas with immediate user feedback in the early design phases. Therefore, this paper aims to develop a real-time prototyping method that enables designers to evaluate a physical model of a design. Accordingly, we demonstrated a complete design and proof of concept for closed surface-based shape-changing displays (SCDs) that can assist designers in realizing conceptual design development. Experiments were conducted to verify the robustness and accuracy of the shapes displayed using the proposed SCD. Simulation-experiment results reveal that complex organic shapes (rabbits or human faces) and man-made shapes (chairs, cars, and buildings) could be accurately reconstructed using the proposed closed surface-based SCD with numerous actuators. Furthermore, an experiment with a physical SCD prototype (2V
icosphere) demonstrated accurate reconstruction of the optimized shapes of a digital model.
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