Shape Teams: Supporting Physical Collaboration for Remote Design Teams Through Linked Tactile Shape Displays (Stanford)

PI: Sean Follmer, PhD


Designers in collocated teams communicate and think not only through sketches, but also through grounded conversation around physical objects and prototypes. These physical objects act as a shared reference for spatial discussion, but also enable complex manipulation to explore and investigate design concepts in ways flat documents or onscreen 3D models cannot. Today’s tools for collaboration at a distance limit lack such physicality.

We propose a system which allows for richer remote collaboration for designers by creating a shared workspace with linked tactile shape displays. These shape displays can create a physical, low resolution model of a 3D CAD file that can be updated in real-time, allowing designers on both sides to touch, feel, manipulate and spatially gesture around a shared physical 3D model. We will develop an interface which allows for shared annotation and manipulation of complex 3D models used by designers. Our belief is that such a system will allow for more easy discussion of spatially relevant information that often take place in design reviews. To motivate our work, we will study how designers collaborate around physical prototypes while collocated. To evaluate our system, we will compare with traditional video conferencing, as well as spatially projected shared workspaces.