Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), ERATO
User Interfaces for Design (Design UI) Project
About ERATO Program: ERATO (Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology) is a research program funded by JST (Japan Science and Technology Agency, a kind of Japanese version of NSF). A director organizes an independent research group comprises between 10 and 20 young Ph.D.-type scientists and engineers. This project started at december 2007 and ends at march 2013.

Project Overview:

The goal of this project is to develop computational systems that help people to design digital media and real-world entities. Specifically, we develop innovative user interfaces and interactive systems (1) to create sophisticated visual expression such as three-dimensional computer graphics and animations, (2) to design their own real-world, everyday objects such as clothing and furniture, and (3) to design the behavior of their personal robots to satisfy their particular needs.

Technologies for media authoring: The goal here is to help people to create and process sophisticated visual expression such as three-dimensional computer graphics and animation. These representations are traditionally created only by experts in a production company and not by general public. Our goal is to develop innovative technologies that enable everybody to create these representations for self-expression and communication purposes. Such technologies can enrich communication in many areas such as to help mathematics teachers to explain the concept of three-dimensional space, to help biology teachers to explain the three-dimensional internal structure of living organs, to help doctors to explain how to perform an operation.

Figure 1: Designing animation by performance

Technologies for designing everyday objects: The goal here is to help people to design real-world, everyday objects such as clothing and furniture by themselves. This enables people to get everyday objects that exactly satisfy his or her particular needs and aesthetics far better than commercial objects resulting form mass production. An example is a clothing design system where the user can simply sketch desired clothing as a 2D drawing and the system automatically computes cloth pattern to produce the clothing. Real-time computer simulation can help the user to experiment with many poses and views before finalizing the design. We also envision that computers can help people to design their own furniture (ultimately their house) by storing professional knowledge in the computer and running various design support mechanism considering physical property. The long-term goal is to bring "design" process closer to the end users by developing new technologies and restructuring manufacturing and distribution industry.

Figure 2: End users designing their own everyday objects

Technologies for programming home robots: Robotics technologies significantly advanced recently and it is foreseeable that robots leave factory and enter home environment. The goal here is to help people to give high-level directions to such home robots. Traditionally, only expert programmers can design high-level robot behavior and end users are provided with very limited control such as giving simple commands. Our goal is to allow end users to specify more sophisticated action ("program") to a robot by providing visual, demonstration-based interfaces. This makes it possible to have home robots support our life more effectively and intelligently.

Figure 3: End users designing the behavior of home robots