ARTHUR, the Augmented Round Table for arcHitectural design and URban planning developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology is the prototype of a tool for architects and city planners.
Instead of having to build and rebuild time-consuming physical models, architects would be able to immediately modify their models. Virtual, computer-generated models can be displayed using semi-transparent head-mounted displays, and appear to be right on the planning table.
The virtual models are complemented by tangible interfaces: real objects are representing the virtual ones – as soon as a physical placeholder is moved, the virtual model is moved correspondingly. A pen or a finger may be used like a “magic wand” to select and manipulate a part of a virtual building. Simple gestures control complex operations through cameras attached to the head-mounted displays; no sensors, cabling etc. are required.
A interesting feature is the integration of ARTHUR’s virtual models with simulation models, e.g., of pedestrian movement patterns or dissipation of heat from sunlight: when a virtual model is relocated, the resulting changes in buyer streams or room temperatures can be evaluated immediately. In a similar way, ARTHUR can be integrated with CAD systems, allowing architects to switch seamlessly between the two design environments.