FlowIO Development Platform – the Pneumatic “Raspberry Pi” for Soft Robotics

Ali Shtarbanov. 2021. FlowIO Development Platform – the Pneumatic “Raspberry Pi” for Soft Robotics. In CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’21 Extended Abstracts), May 08–13, 2021, Yokohama, Japan. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 6 pages.


FlowIO is a miniature, modular, pneumatic development platform with a software toolkit for control, actuation, and sensing of soft robots and programmable materials. Five pneumatic ports and multiple fully-integrated modules to satisfy various pressure, flow, and size requirements make FlowIO suitable for most wearable and non-wearable pneumatic applications in HCI and soft robotics. FlowIO includes a software stack with APIs, Bluetooth capabilities, and web-GUI supported on all major mobile and desktop operating systems. The system is fully compatible with Arduino, JavaScript, and Google Chrome, while support for Scratch, Python, and Unity is planned for future development, making FlowIO suitable for makers from any technical background. Over a dozen people have used the FlowIO platform, ranging from high-school and college students to graduate students and researchers. In this paper I introduce the FlowIO platform, its significance to the HCI community, and preliminary efforts towards deploying FlowIO as a community-driven open-source project.

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