Shifting Design Process: The Cassiopeia Camera Experience

By Estelle

Understanding the needs of multidisciplinary creative teams

This Article has been written by Teshia Treuhaft and originally appeared at Core 77

The evolution of design as a professional practice is one regularly impacted by developments in other fields. As designers, we often sit squarely between disciplines, streamlining and humanizing products for greater usability and appeal in the end result.

Never has the requirement to work between disciplines been as important as it is today. As industrial design becomes increasingly interwoven with service design, user experience design, engineering, manufacturing and more—designers must act as the bonding agent for teams producing innovative products.

In an effort to further understand these emerging hybrid teams of designers, managers and engineers, companies are going as far as studying the trend of co-creation to optimize for social ideation and more collaboration. Likewise, with the speed of technology and pace of product development, having tools and solutions that allow companies to build faster is proving a greater advantage than ever before.


In order to research the way teams work from the inside out, Dassault Systèmes put together a creative team to design the Cassiopeia Camera Experience. Cassiopeia is a concept for a connected camera that has the functionality of a digital SLR, and allows the user to sketch over photos and scan objects or textures. The team took Cassiopeia from inspiration phase to design validation, allowing Dassault Systèmes to gather first-hand knowledge of the needs of each team member and design solutions that directly enhance social ideation and creative design among the group.

Cassiopeia Camera Experience

Using this research, it becomes clear as the project progresses through different phases, that the requirements of each contributor change and communication between parties gains complexity. While each phase builds on the next, a well equipped team will be able to regularly come together during each phase for design validation.

We decided to take a deeper look at development of the Cassiopeia project for unique insight into the inner workings of a team—one that is not only building a product but a holistic experience.

Inspiration Phase

The inspiration phase of any product demands input from a number of key players inside and outside the company. This is often done by compiling references in the form of articles, visuals, sketches and more. A product manager typically leads this phase, however every member of the team can provide valuable input at this fledgling stage.

Team gathers references and inspiration to define key functions of the product

Communication at the inspiration phase must support amassing source material and then distillation until a key concept emerges. The inspiration phase is particularly important for connected devices like Cassiopeia. In this case, the design team faces not only the task of designing the camera, but also the connected functionality. The complex use cases and physicality of the product must be developed in tandem during this phase for a unified end user experience.

Ideation Phase

Once the inspiration is clear to the team, the work of narrowing the idea down to a discrete set of requirements is the next step. This ideation phase moves the product from discussion of the concept into a physical form for the first time. For this phase, creative designers are tasked to visualize the product for the team, iterate together and repeat.

Rough sketches gives the product a form factor that can discussed and refined at later stages

Sketching in this phase is essential. It allows the team to understand possible variations and begin to make decisions about a number of factors. During ideation, the ergonomic and functional aspects of Cassiopeia merge for the first time into a rough form factor that can be communicated to the team.

Concept Design Phase

Once the product is visualized for the first time using the 3D sketches, the next step is to model the product at scale. An industrial designer will typically model the product in 3D, testing and refining design variations from the ideation phase.

An industrial designer adds scale and refines features of device. 

With Cassiopeia, this is the phase where shapes begins to emerge and the conversation about the product shifts from conceptual to physical. The goals of the design must be clarified and communicated clearly so that the product can seamlessly transition from a design into a physical object that can be considered from a manufacturability standpoint.

Detail Design Phase

Once the industrial designer has taken the design from concept sketch to 3D model, a design engineer takes the model and considers it from engineering and manufacturing perspective. This shift from design of the device to engineering of the device is a careful balance to retain as much of the original concept for the form factor as possible.

Foresight during the detail design phase offers ease of manufacturing and greater success in the final product.

This is a key matter of communication between the engineer and designer in order to deliver a product that not only is aesthetically aligned with the inspiration – but also can be manufactured. For Cassiopeia, this requires a seemingly subtle but highly important refinement of surfaces and geometry.

Design Validation Phase

In the final step, the team must simulate the product in order to engage in discussion and finalize the design. Design validation occurs both in the final steps and at regular intervals during the development. There are two main forms this validation takes, led by a visual experience designer and a physical prototyper. A visual experience designer will create a number of detailed renders, while the physical prototyper will develop physical 3D models.

Visualizing decisions is essential to engage key players inside and outside the team

For Cassiopeia this is a key phase as the camera has a number of complex parts, surfaces and functions. Regular design validation throughout the process gives access to all members of the team to make decisions about the final product. When collaboration is managed well, the multidisciplinary team will arrive at the validation phase having shared expertise at each step of the design process. As a result, the final prototype is a true reflection of their shared vision and is reached more quickly than ever before.

The development process of any electronic device is challenging for teams looking to innovate in their respective spheres. As consumer’s expectations increase for well-designed objects that provide comprehensive product experiences, the ability of teams to collaborate and move quickly will be increasingly valuable. The extent to which teams can effectively collaborate will be a defining factor for success – both for the team and the products they create.

To read more about Dassault Systèmes Solutions and Social Ideation and Creative Design, check out their website and webinar.

VIRTUAL SINGAPORE: Creating an intelligent 3D model to improve experiences of residents, business and government

By Akio

Originally published in Compass: The 3DEXPERIENCE® Magazine, written by William J. Holstein

Powered by sophisticated analysis of images and data collected from public agencies and real-time sensors, Virtual Singapore is designed to give a whole new meaning to the term “smart city.”

By giving the city-state’s citizens, businesses, government agencies and research community dynamic 3D visualizations of wildly diverse scenarios, it can be used to plan everything from emergency evacuations to a perfect night on the town.


Singapore is a small country with a giant plan. In one of the world’s most ambitious information technology experiments, the city-state is building a system that will virtualize the buildings, infrastructures, green spaces and almost every aspect of life in Singapore and then display the results as an interactive, 3D replica.

The project, called Virtual Singapore, is led by the National Research Foundation Singapore together with the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), and is expected to be progressively developed, with completion in 2018.

Although many cities are working to assemble and analyze their data in hopes of improving city life, Virtual Singapore is unusual because it will allow all users to visualize in 3D how the city will develop and evolve with time in response to population growth, new construction and other major events.

“We will capture the virtualized life of Singapore,” said George Loh, director of the Foundation’s Programmes Directorate, which includes responsibility for leading the Virtual Singapore project. “For example, it will include demographic data about where elderly people are living, where the businesses and shopping malls and restaurants are, and what the transport schedules are. People can have access to all of that information and make sense of it.”

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “We will capture
the virtualized life of #Singapore”

Virtual Singapore will assemble and analyze data that already exists in dozens of government agencies, plus new data collected in real time from smartphones, cameras and sensors, to model and predict solutions to the emerging and complex challenges Singapore faces.

Displayed in the context of a virtual 3D model of the city, Virtual Singapore will enable city planners to test various responses to everything from population growth and resource management to public events and building patterns, and implement those that create the safest, most positive experiences.

“The words they’ve been using to describe it are ‘digital twin,’” said Chris Holmes, managing director, IDC Insights Asia Pacific, who has lived in Singapore for 16 years. “They’re looking to capture all the moving parts of the city and to track what is happening in the city in real time.”


The Virtual Singapore concept combines several hot technological trends, including big data, the Internet of Things, 3D modeling and predictive analytics. The model will provide information to four basic constituencies.

“It can serve government agencies,” Loh said, “but it also can be a platform where people could have access to limited data and they could use applications that make their lives much more convenient.

Businesses also can offer targeted services to their customers.

And the last stakeholder group is researchers, who may have more ideas than government bureaucrats about how to create new technologies and services.”

The Virtual Singapore project will support Singapore’s vision for creating a “smart nation,” but its vision of giving access to citizens and visitors makes it fundamentally different from what other cities, such as Rio de Janeiro, are doing to make their operations “smarter.”

As it prepares for the 2016 Summer Olympics, Rio has created a command-and-control center where information about electricity usage, water and waste management, traffic flow and crime can be collected in real time. But only government agencies will have access to the data.

Singapore’s project is more challenging because it envisions giving multiple constituencies access to the data each needs, with controls to ensure that confidential and sensitive data is protected – a complex security and privacy challenge.

“We need to give the right data to the right people at the right level at the right time,” Loh said.

The system also needs to be able to serve many different devices. For example, individuals will be able to access the system from smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktop computers.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “#VirtualSingapore gives access to all:
govt, researchers, businesses, citizens”


How will Virtual Singapore help the city, recognized as one of the world’s most livable, maintain that status in the face of rapid growth projections?

As an example, Loh cites the planning required for Singapore to host the Formula One automobile races held there every September, when the government shuts down roads at night and the race cars speed through the city. Huge crowds come to watch the races, but city planners have to prepare for the dangers of evacuating spectators in case of a fiery crash.

Virtual Singapore will help by giving city planners the ability to overlay or “stream in” the locations of people based on signals from their smartphones.

“You will know where all the entrances and exits are, and you know how the crowd will be moving based on the historical data of previous years,” Loh explained. “If something really bad happens, through 3D predictive and intelligent agents modeling you can see how people would disperse and how they would behave. You create a plan for how you would evacuate people.”

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Imagine an evacuation plan
based on how people behave in emergencies”

Virtual Singapore will also develop a common data exchange platform, making much of the data that already exists in government ministries easier to access and share in a secured and controlled environment.

Visualization is a major goal of the project so that the aggregated and integrated data from different sources can be “seen.”

Related: Civil Design for Fabrication


One implication of the Virtual Singapore project, and of similar efforts around the world, is that the way governments work will change for the better, IDC’s Holmes said.

“You’re going to see a more integrated approach in government. If there is a sewage leak somewhere in the city, for example, you need to alert transportation authorities, you need the police to block the roads and you need the engineers to attack the problem. If all those agencies can ‘see’ the problem on the same platform, they will be able to better coordinate their efforts.”

Ultimately, the biggest challenge smart city projects face is that of involving average citizens, said Carlo Ratti, director of the SENSEable City Lab at the Urban Planning Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

“Crucially, the work must demonstrate concepts that promote interaction and debate,” said Ratti, one of the world’s most renowned smart city experts. “The goal of design is to generate alternatives and open up new possibilities. The momentum of the crowd can project ideas into the future and spark development; as a result, our work is meaningless unless it ignites imaginations. This implicates each and every citizen.”

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “The goal of #design is to generate alternatives
& open up new possibilities @SenseableCity”

Ratti argues that the best smart city projects are bottom up, not top down, because they enlist average people in creating them and then using what is created to deliver tangible benefits.

“The overall goal of real-time information in cities is to help people make better decisions,” Ratti said. “Giving data back to those who generate it allows them to be more in sync with their environment.”


Virtual Singapore also gives its leaders an opportunity to inspire the city’s young people to take up science and technology subjects through projects such as the National Science Experiment (NSE).

The NSE has a dual goal of exposing students to real-world applications of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) while collecting environmental data that can be used to populate Virtual Singapore.

Organized by the National Research Foundation Singapore and the Ministry of Education, in partnership with the Singapore University of Technology and Design, the Science Centre Singapore and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, the program began in 2015 with a pilot project involving more than 300 young Singaporeans. By the time the NSE ends in 2017, more than 250,000 students are expected to take part.

Each participant is equipped with a simple device called SENSg, which can capture data, including temperature, humidity and noise levels, wherever the devices go. The information is transmitted wirelessly to a central computer server.

Students can go online and log in to see their own data, including their number of steps taken, time spent outdoors and travel patterns. They can also compare notes with friends while discovering the relationship between travel patterns and carbon footprints.

As the students mature and begin to enter the workforce, organizers hope that projects like the NSE will have made using big data second nature for them.

“This is the first step in crowdsourcing of data,” Loh said. “The people must be smart. The people must be able to leverage the massive amount of data we are going to make available.”

Much of the data that Virtual Singapore will display is already available, although not integrated, in numerical form on computer screens.

One of the key goals of the project is to display that data visually in ways that do not require a user to whip out a calculator to understand the implications.

That’s where 3D modeling becomes critical.

“A picture speaks a thousand words, even without doing any analysis,” Loh said. “Singaporeans should be able to access those images on their handheld devices. A visual display of a crowded train or bus station, for example, should communicate more information more quickly than mere numbers.”

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: #3D Modeling is key: “A picture
speaks 1000 words, even without any analysis”

Related Resources:

Civil Design for Fabrication

Virtual Singapore: A Platform to Solve Emerging and Complex Challenges

Virtual Singapore and the Economy of the Digital Twin


George Loh, who leads the Virtual Singapore project as director of the National Research Foundation’s Programmes Directorate, has a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio) and a master’s degree in Industrial Systems Engineering from the University of Southern California (Los Angeles).

He has more than 20 years of experience in information technology, research strategy, high-tech security and systems engineering for the Ministry of Defence Singapore, the Defence Science & Technology Agency and the NRF, where he also manages programs that include National Cybersecurity Research and Development and the Land and Liveability National Innovation Challenge.

Challenges in the Civil Design Process: A Global Perspective

By Akio

The following article is excerpted from Civil Design Innovation, a whitepaper developed by Dassault Systèmes and SMEDI. To read more, download the full whitepaper here


clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Blog Post: Challenges in the #CivilDesign
Process: A Global Perspective | @Dassault3DS”


With the exponential growth in global population and living standards and the accelerated development of infrastructure to support it, the quantity and scale of civil engineering projects worldwide is constantly on the rise.

As reported in Capital Project and Infrastructure Spending: Outlook to 2025, published by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), infrastructure spending worldwide is expected to reach more than US$9 trillion per year by 2025, more than doubling from US$4 trillion in 2012. This is particularly apparent in China, the Middle East, Brazil, Argentina, and India, where economies are growing at phenomenal speed.

According to Global Construction Perspectives, 63% of global construction activities will take place in emerging markets, largely driven by China and India, by 2025.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “By 2025, 63% of global #AEC activities
will be in emerging markets, largely China & India”

As remarked in the PwC report, an additional 180 airports are estimated to be needed in India alone in the next decade.

“In recognition of the unprecedented level of capital required to fund the infrastructure projects, there is greater interest in private sector involvement and public-private partnerships (PPPs)”, says Ryan J. Orr from Stanford University and Jeremy R. Kennedy from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP.

In the past, the vast majority of the infrastructure projects were initiated by the governments concerned.

However, as government budgets get tighter, especially for countries that are politically unstable and with weak government finances, more and more private companies are getting involved in these projects in the form of Public Partnerships or Private Finance Initiatives.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “More private companies are
getting involved in #civilengineering projects”

These private companies have growing concern about ROI and higher efficiency — in both design and construction — to result in greater and faster profits.


The latest innovations and breakthroughs in civil design and construction in China are in the context of two trends:

1. China’s strategy in developing civil design and construction practices is to use Building Information Modeling (BIM) to fuel the industrialization process. 

The United States, Japan and European countries are already highly industrialized countries and, as a result, have well-developed IT industries. China is committed to using BIM as a means of driving the industrialization of construction. This is the country’s ongoing strategy.

2. In addition, China is shifting from a planned economy to a market-driven economy.

In the past, under the planned economy, the Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute (Group) Co., Ltd. (SMEDI, or “the Civil Design Institute”), was one of the largest departments in infrastructure design and even was given supreme authority to the degree of specifying details to be used for construction.

Now, under the market-driven economy, the Civil Design Institute remains an important function, but its direct influence on entire projects is diminishing, particularly the downstream construction processes.

For example, consensus from multiple stakeholders is now required for highway projects before design instructions are finalized, whereas in the past, the Civil Design Institute had full autonomy.


clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “3 modern
challenges facing #CivilDesign”

Global Coordination  

In recent years, there has been a growing trend for projects to involve international collaboration. For instance, a government project in the Middle East may engage a design consultancy from the U.K., working with a general contractor employing local people. At the same time, the equipment or components used may be from Continental Europe.

This calls for an efficient global collaboration model that enables flexible design adjustments, for example, BIM, which is gaining popularity.

Rushed Processes

One of the factors that accompanies China’s rapid development is the adoption of a “three parallels” practice, where the three processes of design, construction and modifications in design are operated in parallel; and even before completion of the design, the construction phase is initiated.

This is caused by rushing the construction of infrastructure.

The fact is, sometimes even the project owners do not have a clear idea how the final product will look until they see the physical project beginning to take shape, after which they may wish to modify the original design.

Sometimes, the Civil Design Institute can only design the foundation at its beginning stage, because the project owner has no clear idea what he really wants. This means that projects are often suspended at the design stage. It can be difficult and time-intensive to align the owner’s intentions and the design itself.

Back in the 1990s, the Civil Design Institute had more control over every detail, across all their construction projects.

Now, in contrast, they have no authority over what downstream processes should be or how they should be initiated. Today, all their designs need to be approved and last-minute modifications in design are not uncommon during construction. This means it is difficult to predict the quality of work and when the projects will be implemented and completed.

On-Site Construction

Another challenge facing the civil design and municipal construction industry is the prevalence of on-site construction. In the past, contractors used on-site construction methods quite extensively. This had numerous drawbacks.

First, it was difficult to control material waste, because substantial construction waste was produced at the site and disposal was an issue.

Second, it was hard to manage cost, because a lot of uncertainties can occur during construction on-site.

Third, as more construction procedures took place on-site, it was much more difficult to manage the schedule.

And last, as most of the construction took place on-site, much more space was being utilized than if prefabrication construction was practiced. This meant that surrounding roads were often blocked for extended periods causing traffic jams.

These problems can be addressed in several ways. The Civil Design Institute could fully integrate a system of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC). They might utilize prefabrication whenever possible, for example prefabricating the reinforced concrete components and assembling them on site.

Another method is to employ BIM technology, so that different professionals can work with the same model and have information transfer at different stages through a unified format, thereby significantly enhancing overall efficiency.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “[WHITEPAPER] #CivilDesign Innovation
from @Dassault3DS #AEC”

Civil Infrastructure Whitepaper by 3DSExcerpted from Civil Design Innovation, a Dassault Systèmes Whitepaper.

Download the full whitepaper here: Civil Design Innovation | Innovative Industrialization Methodologies Achieve Breakthroughs in Civil Design

This whitepaper provides a broad overview of the latest innovations and breakthroughs in civil design and construction, as well as the challenges faced and the solutions devised to achieve higher quality and improved efficiency. Written jointly by Dassault Systèmes and the Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute (SMEDI).


Related Resources

Civil Design, an Industry Process Experience from Dassault Systèmes

Civil Design for Fabrication, an Industry Solution Experience from Dassault Systèmes

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