Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Candidate Seminar


Embodied Interactions for Spatial Design Ideation: Symbolic, Geometric, and Tangible Approaches


Dr. Vinayak Vinayak


Purdue University


Thursday, February 11, 2016 at 11:00:00 AM


MRDC Building, Room 4211


David Rosen


Idea generation, or ideation, is fundamental to product and industrial design processes, particularly in their early phases. Early design ideation helps designers understand the design space by exploring it through quick generation of ideas. This exploratory nature of ideation demands an uninhibited flow between what a designer is thinking and what the designer is doing to communicate the thought. The challenge in enabling computer-supported ideation is to recognize and interpret the designer’s actions into the intended design artifact. This talk will explore how physical three-dimensional (3D) human movement can be controllably transformed to design 3D shapes for the purpose of idea generation. Drawing from the notion of embodied interactions, I will describe symbolic, geometric, and tangible approaches for transforming spatial human action into design intent. In the symbolic approach, we will begin with a computational framework for creating, modifying, and manipulating 3D shapes through a prescribed set of hand gestures. Using insights from an observational study, we will then explore how the tacit human understanding of a real-world interactions can be embedded within the virtual interactions for shape deformation. For this, I will describe a geometric algorithm for extracting the grasp and motion from a dynamic point-cloud of the hand interacting with a virtual shape. By applying this algorithm to a virtual pottery scenario, I will demonstrate how users can determine their own strategy for reaching, grasping and deforming a 3D shape without learning a prescribed set of gestures. Finally, we will investigate the use of smartphones as creative media to enable direct creation of 3D shape compositions comprised of swept surfaces.


Vinayak received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University in December 2015. The central theme of his research is the expression of design intent towards supporting early phase idea generation for product form exploration. Currently, he is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University where he teaches a senior undergraduate course on Computer-Aided Design and Prototyping. His current research involves building systems for collaborative design using mobile technology. His research has been published in journals such as Computer-Aided Design, Computers and Graphics, and the ASME Journal of Computing and Information Science in Engineering. He has also presented his work at conferences such as ASME-IDETC/CIE, ACM-UIST, ACM-CHI, ACM-SPM, and ACM-TEI. Vinayak has been actively involved in disseminating his research to non-technical audiences through educational workshops with LSAMP and FIRST Robotics, and exhibitions such as MakerFaire, CES and TechCrunch. His work on gesture based shape conceptualization has also led to the commercial deployment of a mid-air virtual pottery application in collaboration with ZeroUI, a Cupertino-based software startup.


Refreshments will be served.