Enclosure Design for Interactive Projected Computer Interface

The Organisation

Hardy & Ellis Inventions Ltd, based at InfoLab21, was founded by two Lancaster University alumni and produce novel interactive displays for a variety of commercial applications. The displays are based around a projector which places an image on any surface and a sensor that tracks hand movements and gestures. This allows any surface to be turned into an interactive touch screen.

www.heinventions.com

The Challenge

The company required help designing enclosures for their different projector and sensor configurations, and approached the Lancaster Product Development Unit for assistance. A sleek design was to be based on a cylindrical stage light for the company’s smallest projector and sensor. To allow the company’s products to remain adaptable to any customer requirements, two further configurations, which have a semi-modular design, for a long range and a short range setup were required.

Expertise Sought

  • Experience with Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)
  • Experience with Computer Aided Design (CAD)
  • Mechanical engineering skills

The Solution

A range of concepts were produced and developed into working prototypes using mechanical engineering, CAD, FDM and laser cutting. The sleek design required the use of a range of unique mountings in order to attach components into the curved cylindrical shape. The iconic spotlight-like appearance that was requested required a domed back and a coned front. These parts, along with the mountings, were specifically designed to be manufactured using FDM. The other configurations were designed so that majority of the parts could be manufactured using a laser cutter and assembled.

Cost

The work was part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the SusDRAM:EDA project, which provides SMEs in the northwest of England with mechanical engineering support.

Impact

The final designs allowed the company to manufacture the housings using equipment available to them without the need for expensive tooling.

Benefits to the company

  • Allowed the company to manufacture the housings without the need for expensive tooling
  • Provided access to 3D printing

Benefits to the university

  • Increased the development of a university spin-out company

Company Feedback 

“We started our technology enterprise, Hardy & Ellis Inventions Ltd, to commercialise our research in sensor deployments, human-computer interaction, and the continued 'physicalisation' of computer interfaces. The company directly builds on the research and tools we developed as part of our PhDs at the School of Computing and Communications.

“Our interactive projection technology allows us to transform everyday surfaces and objects into interactive interfaces. Today people program computers, but tomorrow we expect people will program the spaces they work and live in. We were encouraged by staff, advised on how to set up our business, and had help from the Knowledge Business Centre (KBC) and the Engineering Department who used 3D printing to develop prototypes to encase our projectors. It would not have been possible without the encouragement, experience and inspiration freely given by Lancaster and the people who work there.” Dr. John Hardy and Dr. Carl Ellis, Directors of Hardy & Ellis Inventions Ltd, School of Computing and Communications alumni. 

Future Plans

The company are exploring possible new projects with the university and will continue their relationship with them.