Investigating Spatial Augmented Reality for Collaborative Design

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis presents an analysis of the implementation of Spatial Augmented Reality (SAR) to support collaborative design. SAR is a class of Augmented Reality (AR), where the AR effect is independent from the viewer’s perspective. This property should make SAR uniquely well suited to support collaborative design sessions as it allows multiple participants to simultaneously view the same AR enhanced models concurrently. However, the adoption of SAR in the field of design remains limited. Thus, there is a knowledge gap that surrounds SAR, due to the novelty of the technology, and how its implementation can be configured to better support design. The aim of this research is therefore to:

“Investigate SAR Systems’ Characteristics and Features and how these Affect the Efficacy of Co-Design Sessions ”.

A review of the literature surrounding collaborative design is provided to highlight evidence that enhanced collaboration during design sessions results in improved outcomes. Thereafter AR, and SAR in particular, are analysed to provide a basis for the continued investigation of SAR as a valid tool to support co-design sessions. In addition to the review, the state-of-the-art in implementing SAR in design and collaborative design is presented and discussed to frame the subsequent research conducted as part of this PhD. Moreover, literature is provided covering the metrics that will be used to analyse SAR supported co-design sessions.
The methodology implemented throughout this thesis was one of empirical research conducted through a number of experimental studies aimed at evaluating the impact of SAR on co-design sessions. The experimental nature of this research thus required the development of an SAR platform to be used during experimental testing. The platform was developed iteratively and improved on the basis of feedback received from experiments. These experiments focused on three main areas:
1.The impact of SAR on co-design sessions as a whole
o These experiments aid in understanding the impact that SAR has on the overall design session, focusing primarily on the design outcomes
2.The analysis of specific characteristics and features of SAR and their impact on design outcomes
o Experiments used to analyse the impact of specific elements that are innate to SAR to evaluate their individual impact on SAR supported design sessions
3.Experiments and data collection aimed at gathering industry feedback
o Used to understand the industry perspective to allow for the optimization of SAR to cater to the needs of industry and ultimately allow for its wider adoption
The results highlighted the viability of SAR as a tool to support collaborative design sessions. However, the studies also identified a number of areas for improvement in the implementation of SAR. The thesis concludes with a summary of thirty-two findings, condensing them into two lists of recommendations. One of these lists for technical improvements and one for features and affordances, aimed at assisting future researchers wishing to develop improved SAR platforms for co-design.
Date of Award22 Jun 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorElies Dekoninck (Supervisor) & Vimal Dhokia (Supervisor)


  • Spatial
  • augmented
  • reality
  • SAR
  • design
  • co-design
  • co-creation
  • augmented reality

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