Grants (selected)

Augmented Co-design: Transparency and extraversion of ideation through the interconnected HIS (SSHRC, Insight, 2012-2017)

Principal Investigator: Tomás Dorta

Collaborators: Prof. Christian Bastien (Université de Lorraine) et Prof. Yehuda E. Kalay (Technion).

The first goal of this project is to get a deeper understanding of design ideation, as it is ‘extraverted’ by collaborative design, which lets its cognitive mechanisms emerge through the interconnected HIS. The HIS (Hybrid Ideation Space) is an immersive collaborative ideation tool supporting collaborative design, using life-size and real-time sketches and models. We will conduct large (sampling and protocols) and rigorous studies, capturing the complexity of this activity with innovative methodological tools that we have implemented: ‘Design Flow’ for the designer’s experience during the design activity and ‘Design Conversation’ to capture the meaning and purpose of verbal and gestural exchange in collaborative design. We developed these two methods in small-scale case studies and ad-hoc hoc projects, which left us unable to generalize our results. Set in a multidisciplinary context, the current research will validate and refine our methodological tools for observation, in addition to further explain the mechanisms of design ideation. The second goal is to observe these mechanisms in professional practice as well as in student design studios, both involved with real customers, thus being representative samplings of the ecosystem surrounding true design problems. This research will allow us to validate and further develop the models of user experience and design discourse we have previously proposed by confronting them for the first time to the reality of practice and design workshops. So far, the HIS has been studied in lab settings, isolated from other tools. Here, the interconnected HIS will be used in contexts where designers also use other representation tools, and where there will be back-and-forth exchange between the different tools. Respecting the technological ecosystem and workflow of practice will allow us to see the true space given to the ideation process when it is appropriately supported. This project will contribute to identifying intrinsic mechanisms of creativity in design through the study of ideation and collaborative design augmented by the interconnected HIS. These mechanisms are typical of professional practice and design studios, where negotiation and consensus among project stakeholders are needed to move forward. We will focus especially on the early stages (conceptual design) as well as on moments of creativity where presentation and exchange loops occur between designers and clients throughout the design process. We will focus on the collaborative design process because it is an excellent way to ‘extrovert’ the design process, since it must be externalized, shared, spoken aloud and discussed among the team.

Augmented co-design : collaboration, extraversion and practice through the interconnected HIS (CFI, Leaders Opportunity Fund, 2012-2015)

Principal Investigator: Tomás Dorta

Communication contexts and video mobile interfaces (Chaire Bell en recherche interdisciplinaire, Université de Montréal, 2011)

Principal Investigator: Ignacio Calvo (MA. student)

Collaborators: Prof. Jean-Marc Robert (Polytechnique Montreal) and Tomás Dorta

The aim of this project is to study video mobile communications and their impact on communication and context in order to understand the issues, identify possible solutions and to propose an approach to their design.

Communication and collaborative design through the Hybrid Ideation Space (HIS) (Direction des relations internationales, Université de Montréal, 2010-2011)

Collaborator: Prof. Claudia Mayer (Fachhochschule Aachen)

This research project focuses on better understanding communication, gestures and verbal processes, involved in collaborative design work when supported by new media, like the Hybrid Ideation Space (HIS). The HIS allows a direct relationship between the physical body and the immersive life-size representation thus adding to verbal and graphic communication, communication done through gestures. Furthermore, traditional representations are amplified by immersion and telepresence, that is to say the feeling of being present on a distant location or project site. To achieve this objective, the Hydridlab will lend a HIS to C-MD (Coomunication & Multimedia Design Program at Fachhochschule Aachen, Germany) for a period of 6 months in order to complete a number of research protocols with different participants from different disciplines, including clients and design project contractors. In the context of this research project, the design process is regarded as a social process; therefore we want this research project to take in consideration all disciplines and contributors involved in the design project along with their respective input and expertise.

Distributed Hybrid Ideation Space: The augmented design studio (FQRSC, Appui aux arts et technologies médiatiques, 2009-2011)

Principal Investigator: Tomás Dorta

Collaborators: Prof. Yehuda E. Kalay (UC. Berkeley) and Pierre Côté (Université Laval)

The design studio is an essential environment in design and architecture schools supporting free exploration of materials and representations (physical or virtual). The physical (sensual) character of this exploration and the collective nature of the studio are the lever of creativity in this environment. New technologies have moved into the studio with mixed results. The use of portable computers with their 2D and 3D plug-ins, using the Internet as collaboration channel, has individualized the design work and limited the support to co-creation. With this grant we propose to implement the HIS in the design studio to compensate for the absence of collective ideation space and to do it in a distributed way. Three HIS set in 3 locations (University of Montreal, Laval University with Pierre Côté and UC Berkeley with Yehuda Kalay) will be interconnected to support distributed symmetrical collaboration on a given design project.

A Quantitative Method to Compare the Impact of Design Media on the Architectural Ideation Process (NSRC, Discovery Grants Program (2009-2015)

Principal Investigator: Prof. Pierre Côté (Université Laval)

Co-PI: Tomás Dorta.

Telepresencia: Collaborative design in the Hybrid Ideation Space (Hexagram, 2008)

Principal Investigator: Tomás Dorta

The HIS is a tool that supports sketching and working with models in an immersive (360°) environment, where the user stands inside the representation and interacts intuitively (manually and digitally) in real time, and real scale. Inside the representation, collaboration is more dynamic and productive. In the HIS, the members of a team participate equally and in an active way to the reflexive conversation, which contrasts strongly with the dynamic of a team working on a PC or on a sheet of paper. The goal of this project is to allow and benefit from the sense of téléprésence in the HIS in the context of collaborative work, in a localized and delocalized asymmetrical setting (between a HIS and a work station).

Hybrida: Immersive ideation environment (Hexagram, 2007)

Principal Investigator: Tomás Dorta

Although computer displays have improved the communication during the conception process, ideation is still done through manual traditional tools like sketches and physical models. In this research, we are studying the ideation process done with two new techniques: Immersive drawn virtual reality (Dorta & Perez, 2006) that supports ideation with sketches, and Hybrid modelling (Dorta 2005) that combines manual model making and digital technologies (3D modelling and rapid prototyping). The designer can thus proceed through the ideation process using physical models and sketches amplified, but not imitated, by technology in real time, real scale and in immersion. This study focuses on implications of creating physical models and sketches on the ideation process, on the cognitive aspects and decision-making of the designer and on the creative solutions produced (immersive sketches and models) in this immersive ideation environment.

Drafted virtual reality: A study on ideation through drawing in an immersive environment (FQRSC, Appui aux projets novateurs, 2006-2008)

Principal Investigator: Tomás Dorta

CoPI: Prof. Luc Courchesne (Université de Montréal)

It is a known fact that sketches are key to ideation in the design process in industrial and interior design and in architecture, because of the simplicity and the intuitive nature of freehand representation. Sketching is a dynamic and easily mastered reflexive tool allowing for abstraction, ambiguity and imprecision, all essential to ideation. However, sketches represent 3D forms and spaces in 2D. Virtual reality (VR) is an interesting way to resolve this, allowing the user to be in a 3D environment. But the precision and photorealism of computer representations sets VR as a representational tool as opposed to an ideation support. Furthermore, the interfaces of modelling software are very complex and require designers to prematurely set their ideas in geometric forms. The goal of this research is to study the ideation process through sketching inside an immersive virtual environment (the ?Panoscope?; Courchesne, 2000). Our goal is to understand how ideation benefits when the designer is inside the sketch, via an immersive system, in real time. We will study the designer?s cognitive response in order to build a knowledge base applicable to design and its pedagogy. We will also study the impact of the scale of this representation, the types of forms and spaces that can be created, as well as the use of pictures of reality combined to freehand drawing.