Mobile cyber-physical labs: Integration of mobile devices with system and control laboratories

Jared A. Frank, Anthony Brill, Vikram Kapila

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Recent years have witnessed the adoption of mobile devices to deliver valuable interactive learning experiences to students. Although prior efforts have led to the development of mobile applications that enhance access to virtual and remote laboratories, research has not yet explored the comprehensive integration of mobile technologies into traditional laboratory activities. In this chapter, we present the development of mobile cyber-physical laboratories (MCPLs) in which hardware and software of mobile devices are leveraged in measurement, control, monitoring, and interaction with physical test-beds in the laboratory. Two separate approaches for realizing cost-effective and portable educational test-beds are proposed that utilize the sensing, storage, computation, and communication (SSCC) capabilities of mobile devices to facilitate inquiry-based educational experiences. In the first approach, smartphones are mounted directly to test-beds to allow inertial- and/or vision-based measurement and control of the test-bed. In the second approach, tablets are held such that their rear-facing cameras allow vision-based measurement and control of the test-bed. By developing mobile applications that incorporate interactive plots and augmented reality visualizations, unique and engaging learning experiences are provided from learners' personal mobile devices. The implementation and evaluation of each approach is discussed with a motor test-bed used to teach concepts of dynamic systems and control. Results of investigations indicate that by intimately linking concrete physical and cyber representations of phenomena through interactive, visually engaging interfaces, the MCPLs allow learners to make connections necessary for deep conceptual understanding and to engage in activities that hone their design skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCyber-Physical Laboratories in Engineering and Science Education
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9783319769356
ISBN (Print)9783319769349
StatePublished - Apr 26 2018


  • Augmented reality
  • Dynamic systems
  • Mixed-reality learning
  • Mobile learning
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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