‘Listen to the shapes’. Think3 supports approach to multisensory modeling in funded project

Think3, the only supplier to offer technology solutions that combine product concept, engineering and tooling environments, is member of the consortium implementing the project SATIN. This project with a total cost of 5.1 million € was funded with 2.9 million € from the EU and started in 2006 under the coordination of PoliMI (Politecnico di Milano) for 36 month duration. SATIN stands for “Sound And Tangible Interfaces for Novel product design”. Other members of the consortium are the Portuguese Institituto de Engenharia de Sistemas e Computadores research institution, the Technical University of Eindhoven, University of Nottingham and as partners from the industry Alessi, Italdesign – Giugiaro, MOOG-FCS, Steklarna Hrastnik. The research develops a new multimodal and multisensory interface system for product design integrating in an effective way novel modeling paradigms based on the fusion of vision, haptic and sound interface, through a “designer-centered” approach. The SATIN system consists of a haptic interface, including two FCS-HapticMaster devices connected and integrated with a new haptic strip for shape evaluation and modification. The user can explore and evaluate a surface shape along a trajectory interactively defined by slipping her fingers on the haptic strip that takes the shape of the curve on the virtual model. The shape can be modified by exerting pressure on the haptic strip in single points, or by applying traction/compression and flexion/torsion at the ends of the strip. The visualization system is rear-projection based. The user wears stereoscopic glasses for 3D models viewing; her viewpoint is driven by an optical tracking system. The virtual shape is precisely superimposed to and co-aligned with the haptic strip in order to mimic real life situations. The system also provides metaphoric sounds related to geometric characteristics of the explored shape (curvature, discontinuities, etc.) and also provides feedback about the user’s actions (i.e. forces applied during shape manipulation). The first prototype of the SATIN system has been released in September 2008 and consists of the haptic interface for shape evaluation. The prototype has been tested by the project users: Alessi, Italdesign – Giugiaro and Steklarna Hrastnik designers. The testers have found the haptic strip intuitive to use and effective for representing curves through the sense of touch in conjunction with stereo vision. The idea of using symbolic sounds for conveying information about some shape characteristics has proved to be successful and appreciated by users who have found this communication means innovative and pleasing. The next release of the SATIN system will also include the possibility of modifying an object shape, locally or globally, just acting on the haptic strip. “We enjoy contributing to SATIN, especially with our geometric components developed on purpose. We are convinced the way of working prototyped by this project reflects what will happen in the coming years” said Alain Massabo, Vice President of think3’s Advanced R&D Group. Massabo has overseen think3’s involvement in many funded projects such as FIORES-II and Touch and Design, which were the multi-year foundational projects that have led to SATIN initiative being possible. The project coordinator, Prof. Monica Bordegoni from the Politecnico di Milano, said: “The SATIN project addresses the wide market of industrial product design. The SATIN system exhibits a new generation of design systems where the shape modelling functionalities and an advanced human-machine interaction that includes haptic and tangible interfaces fused with sound, are completely new and innovative in respect to current available applications. It is expected that the SATIN system will have a significant impact in the industrial design sectors and will improve knowledge, productivity and quality of designers’ working conditions. In addition, SATIN will also improve the quality of product design by proposing advanced modelling methods that exploit designers’ skills, where shapes evaluation and modification is done by hand.” think3 has a long track record in funded projects including Touch and Design, EUD Net, FIORES II, GAIA and others. For further information about Satin visit: http://www.satin-project.eu/

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