Prototyping Shape Changing Interfaces


Laser cut living hinges, are known phenomena in the world of design. By laser cutting certain patterns into wood one can change the properties of the wooden plate and turn them into bendable plates. In this study we utilised the bending properties of the laser cut plywood to built a low cost shape changing interface. Such interfaces are promised a great future along with products becoming smarter and smarter.

Industry Analysts predict shape changing interfaces a great future, but how do we as engineering designers prototype such HMI-interactions in a fast and low cost way?

In this context designers need to rethink the way we interact with machines that have more human capabilities; such as driving a car, lifting and elderly person or cleaning your house.To find the pattern that imitated the most organic/human feeling we evaluated 9 different patterns.

The nine Living hinges



Inspired by ressources online as well as a cool old book on ornaments and patterns we cut and tested the patterns. We were looking for a pattern that bended in many directions as well as had a continous surface while bending.


The pattern that was evaluated as the most useful for building organic shape changing movements was an arabic tile pattern found in Politikens Ornament Atlas.

Finally I build a “Breathing Box” with a servomotor moving the plate up and down in different patterns. I was now ready to investigate different emotional responses to different frequencies and movements.

Below you can see the box in action:


Prototyping Shape Changing Interfaces – An Evaluation of 9 different Living Hinges, Jensen, M. B., Blindheim, J. & Steinert, M. (2017), In Review for International Conference of Engineering Design 2017, Vancouver