XR Presentation Tool

HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd | SS 20 | Bachelorthesis | Hend Hourani, Maike Sistemich

Unify – Plugin for presentation tools for interactive & collaborative viewing of CAD models in Extended Reality

Cooperation with Mercedes Benz AG
Submission Date – 17.07.2020

University Supervisors
Prof. Benedikt Groß
Florian Geiselhart

Mercedes Benz Supervisors
Dr. Kay Schattenberg
Ronja Adler


The final thesis is about a Plugin for presentation tools, which is made for engineers and designers. With this plugin they can upload their CAD models quickly and easily to an AR headset to work on them interactively with their colleagues. During the whole thesis, we have worked according the typical design process.

1. Empathize

The first question we had to ask ourselves was, which problem are we trying to solve? After interviewing few engineers, we noticed that there was a huge visualization problem in the construction phase. Many engineers still use pen and paper to discuss their CAD design, others can only use their screen and the rest have the possibility to present it on a presentation wall. In all these cases the CAD model is displayed in 2D, even though it's a 3D-Model. Normally to add the 3rd dimension, a physical prototype has to be manufactured, which costs time, money and materials.

Very few use the Virtual Reality technology, the problem here is that you cannot see the real surrounding environment, there is no eye contact with others and the environment itself is virtual. That is why we decided to use Augmented Reality, even with the headset on, one can see the surrounding environment, you can have eye contact with other colleagues and one can view the 3D Model as a 3D Object in the room as if it was real.

2. Define

Next we had to research about engineers, to get a better understanding on how they work, which tools and software do they use and the difference between them. Also, we summarized how 3D-Modeling normally works(basics), we also did a competition analysis to see and compare different products with different purposes. The competition analysis helps us create our customer a better product that offers many benefits that no other product offers.

Using as many design methods as possible was one of our purposes. Since they help refine the problems, help also with brainstorming, collect new ideas and to get a whole better overview of the whole project.

For a better understanding, more information and view other design methods, you can open our  >> Unify – Documentation <<

Design Methods such as:
Personas: Based on our research and interviews we were able to create three different personas. Personas help us focus on the main problems and needs of our customers. Even though each one of them represents a different case and a different problem, they all still have to work together(in this case, they work in the same company) and our product should offer a solution to all of their problems.

Use Case: The Use Case is designed to summarize the identified problems and put them in a story in order to make them understandable. This use case is based on our research and the interviews we conducted. It summarizes how engineers nowadays work and which obstacles they face on a daily basis.

Insights: We managed to interview engineers, constructors and designers in order to collect as many insights as possible. These Insights include other problems, general information and their opinion about different matters. Which helped us later to define the biggest problems and the needs of our customers.

Design Principles: From the insights we were able to generate numerous design principles that helped us work goal-oriented. These include improving the decision-making process in the team, reducing arguments between coworkers and focusing on the essentials. It also forced us to create qualitatively better designs and no longer depend on subjective assumptions.

3. Ideate

In the Ideation phase, we started then creating as many concept variations as possible. At the beginning we had three different concept directions: individual-, collaborative- and remote- work. There were already many products for both remote and individual work and we wanted to create a new product.Therefore, we focused on the problems of collaborative work. One of our goals was to make everyone an active part of the presentation, be able to interact with the same 3D-Model and see everything in its real proportions.

The process of designing the perfect solution was very long but at the end the final idea was to create a Plugin, that is easily combined with any presentation tool. In our case we choose PowerPoint, since its mostly used and we wanted to create a prototype to show how our product would work. The Plugin allows the engineer to upload CAD models easily to the required presentation, that he can later view with his colleagues together. During the Meeting the host and the guests can view the same 3D Model and interact with it in the room.

4. Design

After the development of the final concept, the next step was to start creating the interface design. In our case we had two different interface designs, one for the Plugin and the other for the AR headset. As any other project, we then started to create many design variations and of course taking into account the needs of our customers. We also made sure that both interface designs (Plugin and AR) should fit to each other.

5. Prototype

For the Plugin we created our prototype using Protopie and Adobe After Effects. Using the combination of both, we were able to make our interface interactive and make it look as if it was real. For the AR-Interface we had to code everything ourselves. Using the combination of Unity(C#), Cinema4D and Fusion 360, we were able to create an interactive interface. Where the user can select via Controller different functions and manipulate the 3D Object. Also using Mirror Networking Engine in Unity made collaboration possible. That means whoever has their headset on, can view and manipulate the same object in the room.

6. Test

At the end we had to test our product. Unfortunately due to the pandemic, we didn't have the chance to test it physically with our users. So we had to do everything remotely and also be our own customer. At the end we got a very good feedback from our users, they managed to understand how our product works, and our project was even picked and given a price from our University for being one of the most practical and realizable project.

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