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Updated: 2018.9.27 05:17
 
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Molding Things in Mid-Air Using Air Scaffolding
[ Issue 164 Page 3 ] Tuesday, September 25, 2018, 16:23:57 Chan Ju Chong Staff Reporter martinc2907@kaist.ac.kr

One may wonder how exactly designers convert 2D designs to 3D designs. As a truer representation of reality, 3D designs naturally require a closer attention to detail for proportions and angles. On top of that, they need to be consistently shaped and structured across all points of view. As a result, designers go through dozens of sketches from different angles and arrive at a prototype after a painstaking process of review and modification. Even then, if the prototype seems disproportionate, the entire process has to start over, which incurs additional costs and delays in the development process.

To expedite this process, Professor Seok-Hyung Bae and his team from the Department of Industrial Design invented a novel 3D design technique named air scaffolding. Designers can simply move their hands around in the air and mold an “imaginary” object. The program captures the 3D movements of the hand joints using infrared tracking technology and renders a 3D outline of an object on the screen. Using this program, designers can quickly capture the rough details in a series of hand motions and fill in smaller details using a tablet pen.

   
Air scaffolding demo

Professor Seok-Hyung Bae’s team is not the first in its attempt to create better workflows for the 3D design process. With the rise of virtual reality (VR), VR-assisted 3D sketching tools are becoming increasingly commercialized. London-based startup Gravity Sketch launched last year its virtual reality sketching software, which allows users to create and manipulate 3D objects using handheld controllers. However, some drawbacks of VR-assisted 3D sketching tools are that they cannot rely solely on hand motions, and that users often report fatigue after extended use.

By using air scaffolding from the preliminary ideation stages, designers no longer need to duplicate their work both on paper and on modeling softwares. Not only did the research team increase the usability of 3D modeling in the design process, but they also contributed to the creation of a user-friendly platform that promotes the expression and sharing of creative ideas through 3D design. In recognition of its achievements, the research team has been awarded the Best Paper Award at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) 2018 held in Montréal, Canada.

Dr. Yongkwan Kim, who led the project, expressed his happiness for receiving the award. He then said, “We do not want to stop at academic success, but continue on to create a successful product that designers can use intuitively in a variety of design environments.” Despite being part of a design-centered research team, the members of Professor Seok-Hyung Bae’s team have been continuously developing practical design software aimed at revolutionizing the design scene.

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