Digital Sketching Tool (1992)

Ralph Stuyver

Supervisory Team
Jim Hennessey

IO IDEATE research lab
(now: IDStudioLab)

By the 90s, Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems were commonly used in the later phases of the design process. Sketching continued to be an important activity in the early stages of concept development, but it was barely supported by CAD systems. What kind of hard- and software could help designers with the formation of ideas and concepts in the digital age?

Ralph Stuyver joined a research project on the conceptual phase of industrial design. Together with other IDEATE researchers, he created a digital tool that combined sketching practices with the intuitive approach designers take during ideation. The A3-sized portable screen, called Ideator, could be used with different pens; it also supported two-handed interaction for 3D design, mimicking the clay modelling process. While an A3 screen proved too expensive at the time, many of Ideator’s unique traits have since surfaced in commercially available devices.

About the design process:

Nowadays, you can draw directly on a screen with a stylus. Microsoft’s Surface Studio has a magnetic dial you can place on the screen to adjust lines and colour. As with Ideator’s dial, this can be operated with the non-dominant hand, leaving the dominant hand free to sketch.