Case study


  • Client: European Project H2020
  • Year: 2018

Mini-Spark is a portable equipment platform that exploits the potential of Spatial Augmented Reality for supporting and fostering collaborative creative thinking in the design process.

Frustrating design iterations and endless rounds of prototype developments ?

The answer to these questions is the main role of stimulo as a SPARK H2020 member. Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mix Reality technologies present challenging opportunities for the coming future, but how can we ensure applying for what designers really need? SPARK is an spatial augmented reality design tool used in co-creative design activities to present, modify, review and select design proposals using a single, digitally enhanced physical prototype. Spark combines both physical and digital elements in the prototyping exercise: it uses a tablet-based interface to trigger suggestions from the audience and it also allows all involved to pick up, feel and examine real physical models, so they can quickly understand the scale, look and feel of a design proposal and provide better quality feedback to the designers. Live modifications of the prototype at hand imply that everybody can immediately see the impact of the feedback and what new ideas can look like.

Stimulo is a partner of the Horizon 2020, the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme to bring outstanding ideas to market.

Characterization of users' needs and expectations

The goal is to achieve new insights about the co-design dynamics (cognitive, behavioural,…) and to map the differences between the interactions with virtual or physical prototypes personalised programs according to stimulo training sessions and giving the most direct live form of feedback. Our aim is analysing the co-creative processes of teams that design and interact with prototypes.

The Spatial Augmented Reality (SAR) platform has been used in co-creative design sessions between both remote and on-site designers, product or innovation managers, consumers and other stakeholders, to enable faster, more direct and better communication.

The feedback and the evaluations obtained during these tests in relevant environment and key stakeholders will be fundamental in order to define the Business model canvas for further exploitation.

An exciting future for Augmented Reality

Considering the product development process as a whole, SPARK will impact on the following issues:

Time savings. Thanks to the creativity stimulation and most of all to the reduction of iterations, it is expected to decrease the time needed to the generation of the preferred concept by 40%.

Human resources involved in the creative projects. It is expected to reduce the human-resources involvement by 25%.

Workload for the whole design process. The different kind of efforts a person should bear during a demanding task, such as the process of designing will be assessed. It is expected to reduce the overall workload for the design process, measured in terms of design iterations; the reduction of working documents (number, extent, etc.) to be produced will be used as a further evidence of the workload reduction ( -50% expected).

Efficiency of the design process (meant also as quality of the output). Efficiency of the design process is usually expressed as the ratio between the quantity of successful ideas (or accepted by the customer) and the overall amount of resources spent along the design process. This aspect has a paramount importance for the estimation of the economic impact of the platform. Thanks to the significant facilitation of a Co-Design implementation, it is expected to increase the efficiency of the design process by more than 70%.

Prototyping costs savings. This is meant as the costs that the creative companies will be able to reduce thanks to the adoption of SPARK platform and are related to the reduction of number of real prototypes that a creative company will have to produce in order to show to potential customers the variants of a design solution along the development process. The comparison of costs will also take into account the balance with the expenses to manufacture rapid prototypes to be used with the SPARK platform. The expected larger number of variants to be explored with the SPARK platform will be used to both assess costs and time savings.

Spark Impact

  • Time Savings


  • Human resources


Real Augmented team

Competences and synergies. All of the research partners conduct research in the field of innovation and/or design, but each of them will bring their own specific main expertise and research interests into the SPARK project.

In detail, peculiar background and research interests characterize the SPARK partners.

Politecnico di Milano (It) grounds its competences on Virtual and augmented reality and creativity in the design process.

The team from University of Bath (UK) has an acknowledged expertise on the study of creativity from an engineering perspective, and specifically on creativity stimuli.

The department of Grenoble INP (Fr) involved in the project conducts research into the human and social aspects and the environment of creativity and design, with a psychological perspective. The research conducted by each of these departments requires highly multidisciplinary scientific skills. All of the departments highly value their research cooperation with industrial partners.

Viseo (Fr) is a French intermediate size company specialized in information systems and digital marketing, which will bring its broad expertise in the development of Innovative software solutions.

The end users represent the two main facets of the SPARK target group: on the one hand, ArteficeGroup (It) is a typical creative industry in Milan, with a huge portfolio on brand design and communication. On the other hand, Stimulo (Sp) is a high tech creative industry focused on product design. The end user Antwerp Management School (Be) hosts at its facility both designers and engineers and it is, therefore, perfectly placed to gather heterogeneous and complementary inputs for the development of the SPARK platform and to disseminate and communicate the project results to a broad range of industry players.

This choice of end users ensures that the project results will be suitable for large variety of research fields and companies relying on creativity and innovation and willing to adopt a co-creativity approach in their design process.

Project process