University researchers are aiming to revolutionise the computer-aided design process, using eye-tracking technology.
Professor Alison McKay, professor of design systems at Leeds University’s School of Mechanical Engineering, and Dr Steve Garner, of the Open University, are examining how eye-tracking technology could recognise which parts of sketches the designer is interested in and automatically suggest developments.
The pair have been awarded £195 000 from the Leverhulme Trust, which supports research and education across all subjects, to develop the initiative over two years.
The research builds on a prototype CAD system developed by McKay for the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council’s Designing for the 21st Century programme, which was a 3D shape grammar-based system which recognised ‘subshapes’ in design sketches.
McKay and Garner now want to add an eye-tracking capability to the system, to find where the sketch catches the designer’s eye, and make suggestions for that aspect. Garner says the eye-tracking technology would exist as a box along the bottom of the screen, and suggested shapes would appear in an on-screen window.
McKay says, ‘The designers wouldn’t have to physically interact with the software – it would already be in tune, ready to support the creative process by suggesting ways of seeing the possibilities of a shape.’