Professor Creates App For Easy Assembly
Maybe you’ve heard the joke: Why did it take Noah so long to build the Ark? Because the instructions came from IKEA.
Shouting matches, hair pulling and minor nervous breakdowns often go hand-in-hand with putting something together from the Swedish retailer. But a Texas A&M University architecture professor may have a solution to take the headache out of at-home furniture assembly.
Confusing manuals for building LEGO kits, furniture, or any product that requires assembly could eventually be replaced with a version of a step-by-step augmented reality assembly app developed by Professor Wei Yan.
Yan demonstrated his app’s capabilities by creating a program instructing a user how to build a moderately complex LEGO model of Paris’ iconic Arc de Triomphe without a printed instruction manual. A video demonstration of the app, BRICKxAR, illustrates how it works:
Using a tablet screen to depict the LEGO construction area, the app shows a 3D rendering of which brick to use next and where it needs to be placed. The process is repeated until the completion of the structure.
Yan’s idea could apply to any number of assembly-related tasks.
“Other applications could include anything requiring assembly, manufacturing or construction, training for jobs in these fields, and a wide variety of do-it-yourself projects,” Yan said.
His idea attracted the attention of the Innovation Awards at South by Southwest (SXSW), the Austin festival that celebrates the convergence of the interactive, film and music industries.
Yan’s app was recognized as an alternate in the XR category of the Innovation Awards, which celebrate the most exciting tech developments in the digitally connected world by honoring breakthroughs in augmented, virtual and mixed reality technology.
The app has also led to a research collaboration between Yan and Dezhen Song, professor of computer science and engineering. The two are studying how to enhance learning of creativity and science, technology, engineering and mathematics with an augmented reality-based making and gaming approach.
Their study is funded by the Texas A&M Presidential Transformational Teaching Grant program, designed to further the university’s commitments to the pillars of advancing transformational learning; enhancing discovery and innovation, and expanding impact on our community, state, nation and world.