Date of Award

Spring 5-30-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Industrial Design


Industrial Design

First Advisor

Tim Maly

Second Advisor

Brian Kane

Third Advisor

Ryan Bardsley


Over the past decade, rapid advancement in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning has led to an abrupt shift in the skills we designate as “human” and the skills we delegate to machines. This shift can be characterized, to some degree, by the transformation of tacit knowledge–knowledge that is difficult to transfer or quantify, into explicit knowledge–a language that machines can both understand and act on. An adjacent surge in democratized education platforms has made it possible for anyone to begin learning a new skill. Mastering a skill however, especially hands-on skills, often requires a level of tacit knowledge and expertise that a static YouTube tutorial cannot deliver. This thesis explores a future in which tools act as educators–a medium to transmit the tacit knowledge of expert tool users to novices. Experiments with homemade flamethrowers, exoskeleton gloves, and a hacked pottery wheel have helped me draft a framework for successfully embedding digital augmentation into tools while avoiding the pitfalls of digital dependency.



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