Archive for the 'haptic' Category

Shillito A. M. Digital Crafts: Industial Technologies for Applied Artists and Designer Makers. 2013

This book by Ann Marie Shillito has been published in October 2013 by Bloomsbury. The first heading of the introduction reads, ‘Don’t be intimidated!’ and serves as Shillito’s motivational motto for the interested maker who is on the verge to engage with digital technologies. ‘I want this book to empower, knowing that engagement with and access to digital technologies will continue to improve and that as designer makers we have exceptional knowledge and expertise to take full advantage of all the means available to enhance our practice.’

Digital crafts cover sml

A practicing designer/maker with a background as a jeweller, Shillito is also the founder of Anarkik3D developer of the 3D modelling product Cloud9. This software enables the user to employ haptic feedback – with a force feedback device – to model virtual 3D objects using also their sense of touch. (I was priveledged to tested an early prototype of this system – it had also stereo-scopic vision co-located with the users real gestural positions).

I like the fact that this complex and multifaceted theme is introduced by an experienced maker. In writing this book, Shillito has also included the voices and works of 45 international contributors who have included digital technologies together with their practice to various degrees.

Being image rich, this book makes it easy to see the diverse opportunities digital technologies have to offer for craft and design practitioners. It takes an honest look as to what would be requried from a maker to access these opportunities. The investment in acquiring the necessary skills is significant. A chapter each is given to 2D and 3D technologies and there distinct applications. Chapter 6 ‘Accessing digital technologies’ might be of particular interest to the novice digital/maker.

Chapter 2, ‘A craft-minded approach’, touches on important questions for contemporary making that sees traditional disciplines becoming less defined through the very technologies that hold so much potential for them. This chapter sets the context against which this book draws its value. It canvases the value of the skills and approaches unique to the designer/maker that both inform the output the creative works as well as the development/application of these digitally-based processes.

I have been familiar with all the technologies introduced in Digital Crafts and have used a fair part of them directly. While all aspects are illustrated with completed works by competent digital Designer/makers, I would have been interested to see how some of these works progressed from conception to realisation.

Digital Craft is certainly a worthwhile resource for anyone interested in the contemporary Designer/Maker model as well as the current state of digital manufacturing and the processes required to access them.

Link to Anarkik3D


about WIMP and GUI

Recently I came across the clip on youtube showing a novel gui (graphic user interface), the BumpTop 3D Desktop , as a way to help manage a user to sort icons of documents on their computer’s desktop. Of interest are the subtle references to our habits in keeping some sort of organizational structure in chaotic piles of paper.
At first glance this gui looks playful and I thought it would be great to have, especially with a pen based input like on a tablet computer. Then I noticed that the stacks of documents just look like poker chips being pushed about ( the ‘$$$ ringed’ hand, at sec 12 in the clip, might be a give away).

The interaction with computers the input side of things is still mostly base on the WIMP (Windows, Icon, Mouse, Pointer) system a rather archaic way of interfacing with computers, especially when it comes to graphics or 3d modeling work. There are however some devices like the Phantom Haptic Device by Sensable that enable the operator to touch, feel and manipulate virtual environments.

More about haptic .

The following chapter is from a presentation at the Challenging Craft conference in Aberdeen, Scotland 2004.


Any research to integrate new technologies within craft can only benefit through the direct involvement of craft practitioners. Their ‘hands-on’ approach will shape the practical outcomes required to make new technologies a tool for their practice.

The following TACITUS project is an example of looking at how a craft practitioner could better interact with a CAD system. The lack of dexterity while designing on a CAD system, typically using only a mouse and keyboard, was at the heart of the TACITUS project.

Ann Marie Shillito presented a paper about the TACITUS project at the PixelRaiders 2 [6] conference in April 2004 at the Sheffield Hallam University. A practicing artist herself, she shared her findings in regards to this project: ‘Our research has identified that a niche exists, in the germinal phase of designing, for exploiting the potential of a digital medium with haptic feedback. Such an interface would enable idea formulation and creative activities to be performed with the same intuitive & fluid transmodal interaction as sketching on paper and with as great a sense and degree of engagement as in modelmaking.’ The stated aims of this three-year collaborative research project include the exploitation of the advantages of being able to work, think and respond in a virtual environment [to stay] more ‘in touch’ with creative working practices and to discover the degrees of multi-sensory feedback required for artists and designers to work intuitively using their tacit knowledge and skills. TACITUS was based on the Reachin Technologies using the Phantom Haptic Device that enables users to touch, feel and manipulate virtual environments. The user’s dominant hand holds the finely engineered force feedback pen-like mechanism which has had its stylus tip accurately calibrated to the x,y,z co-ordinates of the virtual space.

When I had ‘first-hand’ experience with such a device at the Haptic Workbench at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia, I was intrigued how convincingly ones mind can be fooled by a simulated hand–eye interaction. After distorting virtual material for a while I noticed, that the hardest surface sensation the Phantom device was able to simulate was that of a cricket ball. When the simulated tool silently clicked against the virtual surface, it produced the feel of hitting leather. Being a silversmith I found this feedback irritating and distracting. This kind of research is an example of looking at the ‘front-end’, the input-side, trying to overcome the limitations of mouse and keyboard while interacting/modelling on CAD system.

[6] Ann Marie Shillito, Tacitus Project,
Accessed 7/7/04, 3:10 pm.

images of work