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A tangible design tool for sketching materials in products

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 June 2009

Daniel Saakes
ID-Studiolab, School of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands
Pieter Jan Stappers
ID-Studiolab, School of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands


Industrial designers make sketches and physical models to start and develop ideas and concept designs. Such representations have advantages that they support fast, intuitive, rich, sensory exploration of solutions. Although existing tools and techniques provide adequate support where the shape of the product is concerned, the exploration of surface qualities such as material and printed graphics is supported to a much lesser extent. Moreover, there are no tools that have the fluency of sketching that allow combined exploration of shape, material, and their interactions. This paper evaluates Skin, an augmented reality tool designed to solve these two shortcomings. By projecting computer-generated images onto the shape model Skin allows for a “sketchy” tangible interaction where designers can explore surface qualities on a three-dimensional physical shape model. The tool was evaluated in three design situations in the domain of ceramics design. In each case, we found that the joint exploration of shape and surface provided creative benefits in the form of new solutions; in addition, a gain in efficiency was found in at least one case. The results show that joint exploration of shape and surface can be effectively supported with tangible augmented reality techniques and suggest that this can be put to practical use in industry today.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

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