SUBJECT: M.S. Thesis Presentation
BY: Arto Kivila
TIME: Thursday, June 13, 2013, 3:00 p.m.
PLACE: Love Building, 210
TITLE: Touchscreen Interfaces for Machine Control and Education
COMMITTEE: Dr. William Singhose, Chair (ME)
Dr. Rhett Mayor (ME)
Dr. Jeffrey Donnell (ME)
Dr. Wayne Li (COA)


The touchscreen user interface is an inherently dynamic device that is becoming ubiquitous. The touchscreen’s ability to adapt to the user’s needs makes it superior to more traditional haptic devices in many ways. Most touchscreen devices come with a very large array of sensors already included in the package. This gives engineers the means to develop human-machine interfaces that are very intuitive to use. This thesis presents research that was done to develop a best touchscreen interface for driving an industrial crane. To generalize the research, testing also determined how touchscreen interfaces compare to the traditional joystick in highly dynamic tracking situations using a manual tracking experiment.

Three separate operator studies were conducted to investigate touchscreen control of cranes. It was determined that the touchscreen interfaces are vastly superior to the traditional on-off control pendent and that the layout and function of the graphical user interface on the touchscreen play significant roles in the performance of the human operators.

The touchscreen interface also adds great promise for allowing users to navigate through interactive textbooks. Therefore, this thesis also presents developments directed at creating the next generation of engineering textbooks. Eight widgets were developed for an interactive mechanical design textbook that is meant to be delivered via tablet computers. Those widgets help students improve their technical writing abilities, introduce them to tools they can use in product development, as well as give them knowledge in how some dynamical systems behave. In addition two touchscreen applications were developed to aid the judging of a mechanical design competition.