Industrial Design
Virtual prototyping in augmented reality
Charlie Ranscombe
Department of Interior Architecture

In design education prototyping usually means physically building models to be tested by simulating the way the product is used. However, the process of building prototypes can be lengthy, use a lot of materials, and is often only achievable through limited workshop resources. This project introduces students to augmented reality as a way to communicate and test their ideas virtually, and circumvent some issues associated with physical prototyping. It also provides learning resources on how to use Adobe Aero for virtual prototyping and teaching guidelines for how staff can integrate the tool into studio class design projects.
These resources can be downloaded here and include:
1. Student Resource
2. Sample
3. Lesson Plan

Swinburne only resources:
I embedded the virtual prototyping activity within an industrial design studio where students were tasked to create products for the kitchen. 
The activity occurred around the middle of semester where students had a clear idea of their product but still had many aspects of the design to develop. In particular, students were challenged to use the virtual prototype to test and define the overall size and shape of their product. 
Students used Adobe Dimension to create low fidelity (rough) digital prototype of their design using preliminary approximate dimensions (height, width, depth). Adobe Aero (augmented reality software) is then used to contextualise the digital model within students’ own kitchen. As such they are able to visualise their rough design within the context of their surroundings in a similar manner to a physical prototype. As such they can reflect on the suitability of their design. Does the size seem appropriate? How does it compare to other products found in the kitchen?

How to use Adobe Aero to prototype your design by putting 3d digital models in augmented reality

Outcomes of the project include content created to teach students about Adobe Aero and how the tool can feature within their design process, template/guide on how to communicate the outcomes of using the tool, and examples of its application that feature within student’s project portfolios.  

Digital Literacies
This project embeds critical fluency alongside pre-existing technical literacy students have in a range of design software, by challenging students to reflect on the suitability of emergent designs. In addition it aims to build technology literacy in AR as a digital tool that is becoming widely available for designers to use.
Industrial design is a discipline that relies heavily on creative digital tools and media. It covers 2d design software as well as 3d modelling and rendering software. As result an initial fear in this project was that introducing yet another tool may be either overwhelming, or that the value would not be clear in comparison with well-known and learned tools. The first finding from the project was that students that participated did not see the additional tool as a burden and did understand the value or context within the design process where the project had benefits. 
One finding that is not yet clear is the extent that bringing the designed artifact (digitally) into one’s own home environment sharpens critical thinking about their work. In other words, does contextualising designs in a highly familiar environment facilitate a richer critique as the student can better imagine/understand the design in question. Nevertheless, it was clear students that used the tool were able to reflect on the suitability of the virtual prototype. More importantly their work showed that the students did go through a number of iterations of the virtual prototype before finalising their designs. 
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