In the IdeaGarden project we aim to develop tools to support designer. Catch-Up 360 is an attempt to provide digital benefits to physical artifacts. Especially large design companies, such as LEGO®, have offices at different locations and while sharing digital data works smooth, exchanging physical mockups is quite difficult and cumbersome. Producing digital blueprints to enable the reconstruction of prototypes at different venues is an option, but requires complex digitization and time-consuming rebuilding. Therefore, the usual approach is to build two physical models and ship one to the distant place, which does not work if the recipient is on the go. In any case the development cycle is slowed down, as the feedback from fellow designers is essential for developing the next iteration of a prototype and exploring an idea further. Moreover, in this cycle it is also important to compare the current model to earlier versions. A direct comparison can become difficult as multiple physical versions of an artifact require a lot of space. In addition, new versions of a mockup are often based on earlier iterations, which makes a direct comparison impossible.
Catch-Up 360 is a system designed for sharing early-stage physical mockups over distance and capturing different iterations for later retrieval and comparison. Our goal was to provide a simple, intuitive, and tangible UI that makes sharing and recording of physical artifacts as easy as putting them up on a shelf. Our design was inspired by art galleries, where individual artifacts are often placed on pedestals. This placement creates additional attention and gives more significance to the object. Moreover, the free positioning in the room provides different perspectives to the spectator. At LEGO, we observed that movable pedestals are used to present prototypes to colleagues. We took up the idea to place a physical mockup on a significant place in a design studio. By equipping it with a camera that streams a live video to a web-client, the spot becomes not only a local anchor point for conversations, but also allows for asynchronous remote communication.
The figure above depicts the most important components of Catch-Up 360. The mockups are placed on a motorized turntable, similar to devices used to make 360° product views (e.g. pamco-imaging.com, or 3d-viz-technology.com). The turntable can either be spun locally by hand or remotely via a web interface. A side-mounted IP camera provides the possibility to visualize the mockup remotely and to view the object from different angles, while the capture camera records the models to provide historic views of the models. A touch display, next to the pedestal provides additional information about the history of the object. Locally, annotations are created using a pen-and-paper approach. The notes are digitized instantly and displayed on the projection surface. Another option is to add notes through remote devices.