Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Document Type



The integration of electronic and mechanical hardware, software and interaction design presents a challenging design space for researchers developing physical user interfaces and interactive artifacts. Currently in the academic research community, physical user interfaces and interactive artifacts are predominantly designed and prototyped either as one-off instances from the ground up, or using functionally rich hardware toolkits and prototyping systems. During this prototyping phase, undertaking an integral design of the interface or interactive artifact’s electronic hardware is frequently constraining due to the tight couplings between the different design realms and the typical need for iterations as the design matures. Several current toolkit designs have consequently embraced component-sharing and component-swapping modular designs with a view to extending flexibility and improving researcher freedom by disentangling and softening the cause-effect couplings. Encouraged by early successes of these toolkits, this research work strives to further enhance these freedoms by pursuing an alternative style and dimension of hardware modularity. Another motivation is our goal to facilitate the design and development of certain classes of interfaces and interactive artifacts for which current electronic design approaches are argued to be restrictively constraining (e.g., relating to scale and complexity). Unfortunately, this goal of a new platform architecture is met with conceptual and technical challenges on the embedded system networking front. In response, this research investigates and extends a growing field of multi-module distributed embedded systems. We identify and characterize a sub-class of these systems, calling them embedded aggregates. We then outline and develop a framework for realizing the embedded aggregate class of systems. Toward this end, this thesis examines several architectures, topologies and communication protocols, making the case for and substantial steps toward the development of a suite of networking protocols and control algorithms to support embedded aggregates. We define a set of protocols, mechanisms and communication packets that collectively form the underlying framework for the aggregates. Following the aggregates design, we develop blades and tiles to support user interface researchers.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Secure the entire work for patent and/or proprietary purposes for a period of one year. Student has submitted appropriate documentation which states: During this period the copyright owner also agrees not to exercise her/his ownership rights, including public use in works, without prior authorization from LSU. At the end of the one year period, either we or LSU may request an automatic extension for one additional year. At the end of the one year secure period (or its extension, if such is requested), the work will be released for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Ramanujam, Jaganathan