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Concept of the System for Visual and Tactile Rendering

The aim of this research work is to develop a system that will enable designers to simultaneously see and touch virtual shapes of products, with the aim of evaluating the quality of the design already during the initial design phases. By means of a visual and tactile representation, the designer will be able to evaluate various properties of the shape, as its dimension, proportion, geometrical features, physical characteristics, visual textures, and so on. The tactile evaluation should be a natural interaction with

New product design process

Fig. 3.2 New product design process

the shape, where designers can touch and explore a shape manually through free hand interaction.

The main advantage of this new way of evaluating the shape concept is that visual and tactile evaluation can be performed at the same time, in a much convenient and effective way. On the basis of the results of the evaluation of the shape, the digital shape can be changed, and evaluated again. According to the requirements of providing visual and tactile rendering of a digital shape, the system will consist of two modules:

  • • a module for tactile shape rendering and interaction;
  • • a module for the visual shape rendering and interaction.

The first module will aim at representing in the real environment the shape of a product, which can be explored naturally through free hand interaction. This research work proposes a tactile display allowing designers to touch a virtual surface through a continuous touch of curves lying on the product shape. The tactile display is developed on the basis of the SATIN system, which has been developed in previous research, and which is described in the following Section.

The second module will provide the designers with visual information of the shape. In order to make the system as much intuitive and immersive as possible, the visual information about the digital model will be displayed on top of the tactile display through an Augmented Reality system. It will allow us to superimpose the digital model onto the shape display. In this way, the user will have the feeling of really touching the digital model and thus he/she will have the chance of interacting with the model, as it would be a real one.

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