BrickStARt: Enabling In-situ Design and Tangible Exploration for Personal Fabrication using Mixed Reality
3D-printers enable end-users to design and fabricate unique physical artifacts but maintain an increased entry barrier and friction. End users must design tangible artifacts through intangible media away from the main problem space (ex-situ) and transfer spatial requirements to an abstract software environment. To allow users to evaluate dimensions, balance, or fit early and in-situ, we developed BrickStARt, a design tool using tangible construction blocks paired with a mixed-reality headset. Users assemble a physical block model at the envisioned location of the fabricated artifact.
Designs can be tested tangibly, refined, and digitally post-processed, remaining continuously in-situ. We implemented BrickStARt using a Magic Leap headset and present walkthroughs, highlighting novel interactions for 3D-design. In a user study (n=16), first-time 3D-modelers succeeded more often using BrickStARt than Tinkercad. Our results suggest that BrickStARt provides an accessible and explorative process while facilitating quick, tangible design iterations that allow users to detect physics-related issues (e.g., clearance) early on.