FabNavi: A support system to assemble physical objects using visual instruction

Author: Koji Tsukada, Future University Hakodate
Other Authors: Keita Watanabe, Assistant Professor, Meiji University Daisuke Akatsuka, Researcher, Mozilla Japan Maho Oki, Researcher, Future University Hakodate


In this FAB age, people can easily duplicate physical parts through personal & social FAB technologies; that is, they can download the model data from a web service (e.g., thingiverse) and print it using a desktop 3D printer. However assembling these parts is still troublesome especially when creating complicated items.

There are great web services (e.g., instructables) that support the assembly process. However, most of these services have several limitations. First, such service is language-dependent since most contents consist of texts and compliment images/videos. Common people often have difficulty in reading/writing foreign languages. Second, the first limitation cause knowledge-dependency since text expression is sometimes misinterpreted because of the lack of knowledge. Third, the quality of the contents is often changed based on camera/computer skills (skill-dependent).

We propose a new system, FabNavi, which helps people to assemble physical objects in remote places using visual instruction. FabNavi mainly consists of a pair of camera & projector set above the tabletop. People can easily record the assembly processes by pictures/videos, add annotations by handwriting, and share these instructions on the web. Then other people can re-assemble them just by following the visual instruction projected on the (remote) tabletop.

The goal of FabNavi is to create a framework for recording & sharing instruction through the FabLab network. For example, when a person designs a new paper craft, he/she can easily record the assemble process using FabNavi and share the instruction and data Then, other guys in a remote FabLab can cut the parts using laser cutter and assemble it just by following the visual instruction.

We already performed exhibition at Mozilla Festival Tokyo / London and workshops at FabCafe Tokyo / Taipei. We also collected visual instructions of various contents like paper crafts, lamp shades, LEGO, and Origami.

We would like to report our experience through the workshop and exhibition and perform demonstration for FabLab communities.

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