Nav: Home

New computational method provides optimized design of wind up toys

November 17, 2017

A team of leading computer scientists has developed a novel computational system to aid the design and fabrication of wind-up toys, focusing on automating the intricate interior machinery responsible for the toys' wind-up motion. The new computational system includes analytic modeling of a wide variety of elemental mechanisms found in common wide-up toys, including their geometry and kinematics, and automating the construction of the toys accurately and with moving parts that consume less energy.

The researchers, from University of Science and Technology of China, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and University College London, will present their work at SIGGRAPH Asia 2017 in Bangkok, 27 November to 30 November. The 10th annual conference and exhibition will showcase some of the world's leading professionals, academics and creative minds at the forefront of computer graphics and interactive techniques.

Wind-up toys are typically lightweight with compact internal mechanical assemblies that are powered by clockwork motors attached to a spring key. Once the toy is wound up and the interior spring is released, the stored potential energy drives the toy's internal mechanical parts, which then prompts the additional parts of the toy to perform their specified motions, like swinging arms, a moving tail, a bobbing head, for example. The interior assembly often consists of small mechanical parts of nontrivial shapes. These parts have to compactly stay within the toy's body shell and connect to each other with minimal friction for efficient motion transfer, making wind-up toys difficult to design manually.

"In the era of personalized fabrication like 3-D printing, we asked, why can't novices still design customized wind-up toys?" said Dr. Peng Song, a former associate researcher of University of Science and Technology China and a lead author of the research. "We set out to computationally design these expressive toys with moving parts but requiring low energy."

Detailed in the paper, the researchers identified 11 elemental mechanisms commonly found in wind-up toys--fundamental motion patterns such as swinging while moving or bobbing up and down while bumping right to left--and modeled their geometry, kinematic properties, and connections. Given user inputs such as toy parts, motion range and motor pose, the team's new method automatically constructs and arranges the mechanical parts inside the toy for delivering the desired toy motion. The researchers optimized the geometry of the wind-up mechanism by aiming to compact the mechanism, minimize its weight, avoid collision between any internal parts with the spring motor and body shell, and assure the desired motion of the toy is achieved.

Novices were able to successfully design their own wind-up toys using the new computational system. The designs were 3-D printed to test the functionality of the new model. Using a prototype--a wind-up toy teapot--the researchers showed that their computer-aided design resulted in a more compact mechanism with smaller mechanical parts, and the ability to run motions for longer durations and move over a longer distance. Down the road, the researchers plan to explore the use of their methods on micro-robot design and mechanical toys that run on limited battery power.
"Computational Design of Wind-Up Toys" is coauthored by Peng Song, Xiaofei Wang, Xiao Tang, Hongfei Xu and Ligang Liu of the University of Science and Technology of China; Chi-Wing Fu of the Chinese University of Hong Kong; and Niloy J. Mitra of University College London.

For the full paper and presentation video, visit the project page.

About SIGGRAPH Asia 2017

The 10th ACM SIGGRAPH Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques in Asia will take place in Bangkok, Thailand at the at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre (BITEC) from 27 - 30 November 2017. The annual event held in Asia attracts the most respected technical and creative people from all over the world who are excited by research, science, art, animation, gaming, interactivity, education and emerging technologies. The four-day SIGGRAPH Asia 2017 conference includes a diverse range of juried programs, such as the Art Gallery, Computer Animation Festival, Courses, Emerging Technologies, Posters, Symposium on Education, Symposium on Mobile Graphics and Interactive Applications, Symposium on Visualization, Technical Briefs, Technical Papers, VR Showcase and Workshops. A three-day exhibition held from 28 - 30 November 2017 will offer a business platform for industry players to market their innovative products and services to the computer graphics and interactive techniques professionals and enthusiasts from Asia and beyond.


The Association of Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques (ACM SIGGRAPH) sponsors SIGGRAPH Asia 2017. Founded in 1947, ACM is an educational and scientific society uniting the world's computing educators, researchers, and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources, and address the field's challenges. ACM strengthens the profession's collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. The ACM SIGGRAPH deals with all aspects of graphical user/computer communication and manipulation: hardware, languages, data structure, methodology, and applications

Association for Computing Machinery

Related Geometry Articles:

Mathematicians deliver formal proof of Kepler Conjecture
A mathematical problem more than 300 years old gets a formal proof with the help of computer formal verification.
New study describes how surface texture can help or hinder formation of ice crystals
A new study examining how ice forms from pure water found that the geometry of the surface that water is on can have an effect on whether or not it freezes, suggesting that surface geometry plays an important role in ice formation.
Self-assembled nanostructures can be selectively controlled
Plasmonic nanoparticles exhibit properties based on their geometries and relative positions.
A tale of two pulsars' tails: Plumes offer geometry lessons to astronomers
Like cosmic lighthouses sweeping the universe with bursts of energy, pulsars have fascinated and baffled astronomers since they were first discovered 50 years ago.
David H. Yang to receive 2017 AMS-MAA-SIAM Morgan Prize
David H. Yang, a senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the recipient of the 2017 AMS-MAA-SIAM Frank and Brennie Morgan Prize for Outstanding Research in Mathematics by an Undergraduate Student.
Dusa McDuff and Dietmar Salamon to receive 2017 AMS Steele Prize for Exposition
Dusa McDuff and Dietmar Salamon will receive the 2017 AMS Leroy P.
Leon Simon to receive 2017 AMS Steele Prize for seminal contribution to research
Leon Simon of Stanford University will receive the 2017 AMS Leroy P.
Application of the mathematics of harmony -- Golden non-Euclidean geometry in modern math
A masterful exploration of history and the essence of mathematical reasoning to the future development of modern science and mathematics.
New theory -- embryo geometry -- proposes explanation for how vertebrates evolved
A new theory aims to explain how the complex vertebrate body, with its skeleton, muscles, nervous and cardiovascular systems, arises from a single cell during development and how these systems evolved over time.
A collection of practical algorithms for polynomial inequality proving and discovering
'Automated Inequality Proving and Discovering' is the first book that focuses on practical algorithms for polynomial inequality proving and discovering.

Related Geometry Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...