Requirements for an enactive tool to support skilled designers in aesthetic surfaces definition
In common industrial practice the definition of shapes of styling products is performed by product designers by handcrafting scale models made of clay while exploiting their manual skills. Several Computer-Aided Styling tools have been introduced in years with the aim of allowing the creation of product shapes in digital. But the low interest of developers to provide designers with a natural interface that would allow them to continue to use their learned manual skills, has led them to continue to work on clay materials and produce expensive physical prototypes. Enactive Interfaces have been demonstrated to be effective to support the exploitation of human skills including the manual skill of industrial designers. The paper describes an Enactive Interface that has been conceived to support designers in the evaluation of aesthetic shapes, which consists of a combination of an active manual and visual exploration of the shape. The Enactive Interface is the combination of visuo-haptic technologies and has been implemented on the basis of observations of the shape evaluation activity performed by manually skilled designers. In the paper we describe the testing sessions performed to capture the designers’ manual skill, the working principles of the enactive interface and finally the results of the subsequent testing activities specifically carried out to evaluate the effectiveness of the interface.