UC Berkeley's Virtual Development Center
Institute of Design
Carlo Sequin (EECS)
Paul Wright (Mech Eng)
Ken Goldberg (IEOR, EECS)
Lon Addison (CDV and CED)
The Berkeley Institute of Design (BID) is part of the CITRIS center. CITRIS is aimed at providing IT research in the interests of society.
BID is the component of CITRIS that unites disciplines from engineering to visual arts to realize that vision. BID begins with human-centered
design practices: contextual inquiry, participatory design, etc. It emphasizes understanding the diversity of the consumer: gender, age,
cultural and racial background. It is the closest point of contact between engineers and designers developing new technologies and social
scientists doing needs analysis and evaluation of such technologies. BID builds on Berkeley's current excellence in
state-of-the art technology such as: tools for prototyping, visualizing and manipulating designs;
the development of "digital critics" to automatically evaluate designs for manufacturability, complexity, and cost; understanding the entire
product development process from design to manufacture to market; and collaboration tools for team
design across disciplinary boundaries and physical distance.
Sample Research Topics
- Design Practice: Contextual Inquiry and Participatory Design are established ways of actively involving the user in design. But they are
subjective and lack verifiability. Computational tools could allow for quantitative verification of qualitative theories in areas such as web
and user interface design. There is great opportunity for new approaches that incorporate the best features of both approaches. Various
"brainstorming" techniques have been developed that facilitate the creative phase of design, and these methods have been studied
extensively at Berkeley. This work suggests new approaches for fostering the creative process using a mixture of practice and computer tools.
- Design Tools: There is a broad range of design tool research including
tools for the early stages of design, informal prototyping, wizard-of-OZ techniques, rapid functional prototyping, immersive design environments,
and late-stage design tools. The latter would include digital critics with knowledge about manufacturability, cost, availability of parts,
etc. While these tools are generally specific to a discipline, there are many features of design (e.g., support for informal design in the early
stages and the value of visualization) that are universal and would greatly benefit from comparison and contrast between disciplines.
- Visualization Tools: Visualization supports design in many ways. Designers can see and manipulate the design itself in many ways, from
different perspectives that expose aspects of the design, and use analysis tools for particular tasks such as calculating heat and stress
(in mechanical design), natural and artificial light (in a building) or user traffic (for a web site). Designers may also want to view an entire
design space, i.e., a representation of many possible designs, and to evaluate characteristics of those designs in a single view. These tasks
pose many interesting and challenging research problems.
- Collaboration Tools: Design is almost always a team endeavor, and most
teams span several disciplines. Tools already developed at Berkeley allow search of design databases with discipline-specific vocabularies,
allowing designers from one discipline to more accurately locate material written by others. More work is needed on this. Work is also
needed on group tasks such as coordination and scheduling, annotation and ad-hoc conferencing.
- Evaluation Tools: In today's dynamic marketplace, design is often an
evolutionary task. Well-designed products must be evaluated several times during design, and also later in the field to discover actual and
new usage patterns. New techniques can automate some of this analysis and reduce the labor overhead for continuous design refinement during a
product's life-cycle. Products in the future may include data-gathering facilities for evaluation in the product itself.