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Collaborative Diagramming for Ideation Sessions

This is an ongoing project.


Recent years have seen a profusion of new interactive systems combining physical and digital entities. Such mixed interactive systems put tangible artefacts into the user’s hands, transforming the interaction into a real experience. Such interfaces are particularly relevant in public spaces such as museums, in which they provide visitors with a fun and entertaining access to knowledge. There are limitless ways in which physical and digital entities can be combined. But there are few examples of real systems, meaning that every design involves significant exploration and experimentation.

To assist the design of mixed interactive systems, researchers from the University of Toulouse have developed a method called Model Assisted Creativity Sessions (MACS). This method supports brainstorming where participants from a wide range of backgrounds explore trade-offs in the design of a mixed interactive system. To do so, they collaboratively use pens, post-it notes and big sheets of paper to draw diagrams representing a variety of candidate solutions.

However, we observed during design sessions that the editing of diagrams slows down the creative process. In practice, participants often wish to explore several similar design alternatives. This requires them to recopy most of the diagram to produce a new version changed in small ways. However, participants never do this, instead overlaying their new ideas on the same sheet of paper, rapidly making the diagram unreadable.

To solve this problem, we built MACS On Top. This surface-based tool allows small groups of designers to collaboratively draw and edit diagrams, rapidly supporting creation and comparison of many design alternatives. And because a video is better than words, please look to our video demo.


LEIF Transatlantic Exchange Program

University of Toulouse