As an educator in the area of clothing, textiles and interior design&mdahsoften regarded as a traditionally, somewhat slow-to-change field in terms of technology adoption and integration—in 2000, I created the ADMCLA project. The ADMCLA (Apparel/Interior Design & Merchandising Collaborative Learning Architecture) project, addresses the technological aspect of integrated curriculum development of the apparel/interior design and merchandising disciplines within a computer-based virtual learning environment in order to train students skilled in the computer-aided design arts within an up-to-date and creatively integrated digital environment.
The advantage of the ADMCLA project is that it is dynamic in nature. Effective technological implementation should be considered from the curriculum viewpoint and not as a single course objective. To be effective, the curriculum should, while still providing a liberal education in aesthetics, be structured around the technological objectives of each of the offered courses by instilling creative digital design skills. As students learn how to use a specific software program, they should be provided with the opportunity to build on that knowledge (and to further enhance their design datasets) as they process through the various courses. By the time they reach the senior level courses, they should be prepared to explore the more demanding and complex technological aspects of this project involving 3D modeling and virtual reality integration
Overall, computer art has changed viewpoints as well as the process of design. Approaches that could not be considered, for various reasons, prior to computing such as changing a minute detail in a graphic or creating a totally different viewpoint can now be generated with often very little effort. Current software applications and specific hardware allows designers to be in control of the entire design process—from concept building to final project. They do not have to rely on a bevy of others for assistance.
I have found that if students allow their creative ideas to drive them, they can locate and learn how to use the appropriate software tools to assist them in reaching their design goals. Imagination should be what inspires the artist/designer and the various software applications provide the tools that will help him/her realize the vision.
There needs to be a change in perception especially in higher education regarding instructors who teach in the computer graphics disciplines by the academic community at large. As more complex applications are introduced, these instructors are continually spending more and more time learning and integrating this knowledge in to the classroom. The level of skill and creativity such individuals must possess in order to be effective should be acknowledged.
The definition of “research” needs to be rewritten in order to encompass a diversity of work. Currently, there is little to no professional recognition for this type of work in most universities. My hope for the future is that professors engaged in computer graphic arts are able to obtain the well-deserved, professional recognition and understanding they deserve.
A central ADMCLA feature—the creation of a model three-dimensional store environment as a Virtual World—exported to and visible on the Internet—provides an excellent opportunity to further develop an active virtual community and model commercial portal, given that the virtual department store can act as a context provider for the disparate affiliated communities of the College of Human Environmental Sciences. The concept of the virtual department store as a laboratory of authentic learning experiences has become an especially noted aspect of this project.
The creation of a Virtual Reality (VR) community is unlike the development of a web site in that it intrinsically depends on the habitual frequenting of a space by visitors’ avatars that interact with one another. The key is to be conspicuously innovative and to cultivate habitual visitor traffic by providing stimulating content that is meaningful to a real community. This kind of authentic learning experience should be the ultimate endorsement for the accomplishments of the students in mastering their respective crafts and instrumental in bringing them to the attention of the employers in industry who are currently so much in need of them. This visibility may also be instrumental in communicating the leadership that is required for generating organizational change.
The following is an instructional scenario of the ADMCLA at work. Apparel Design students will, in the fall semester of their senior year, create their own line of garments rendered in the computer for the Harris Virtual Department Store. The fashion retailing students, enrolled that same semester in Visual Merchandising, will create a visual campaign for each of the different lines created by the Apparel Design students within the Harris Virtual Department Store. The fashion retailing students will prepare inventory controls for each of the lines they are responsible for tracking. The different lines of garments will be made available to the public via the Internet for purchase during a specific time-period. The fashion retail students will track the sales and work with the visual merchandising students to re-merchandise the garments within the retail space, if needed, to increase sales. When the sale period ends, the fashion retail students will provide the apparel design students with purchase orders detailing the specific sales of the garments from their line.
The apparel design students will then take their orders to an apparel manufacturer partner who will construct the garments. The apparel design students, along with the fashion retailing students, will work with the manufacturer throughout this process.
During this time the apparel design, the fashion retailing, and the visual merchandising instructors will have the opportunity to teach with these authentic examples. Also, once the selling and manufacturing processes are over, the same instructors, can take the available data and use it to discuss various topics associated with this experience—especially relating to current and future industry trends such as mass customization, reducing time-to-market and e-commerce.
Interior design students could use the Harris Virtual Department Store as a place to try new retail space ideas or to help them understand the importance of building codes. They can test new concepts, apply different types of lighting techniques and/or color ways of paint. Things that would be organizationally impossible for them to do in the real world could be achievable in this virtual world. Physically impossible (or unlikely) constructions may serve various creative instructional purposes and may themselves become prototypes for pure VR merchandising in the future.
One of the most dynamic areas in the arena of computer automation today is digital modeling and design. Advanced 3D design tools are being deployed in the apparel & textile industries at a rapid rate that is outpacing the supply of available trained personnel, and swamping the capacity of available retraining centers. A part of these developing technologies is concerned with draping and animating virtual mannequins—essentially the Virtual Fashion Show. Toyobo, DressingSim LookStailor. (2000, October 13). It would seem completely feasible to further exploit data from these 3D and VR graphic design functions with Mixed Reality renderings for merchandising of the resultant products.
Mixed Reality (MR) is the state-of-the-art technology that merges the real and virtual worlds seamlessly in real time. It draws attention as a new technology of human interface, which surpasses the border that the conventional virtual reality has.
MR is ... the technology to merge the virtual world, such as computer graphic images generated in a computer, and the real world, as seamlessly as possible in real time. The concept that enhances the real world with the virtual data is known as ‘augmented reality (AR).’ On the other hand, the concept that enhances the virtual world modeled in a computer with the data from real world is known as ‘augmented virtuality (AV).’
Mixed Reality Systems Laboratory Inc. What’s MR. (2001, April 18).
The term of ‘mixed reality’ covers the spectrum of possibilities between physical reality and complete virtual reality representations.
Milgram, P. and F. Kishino (1994). A Taxonomy of Mixed Reality Visual Displays. IEICE Transactions on Information Systems E77-D (12): 1321-1329.
Haptics is the science of applying tactile sensation to human interaction with computers. A haptic device is one that involves physical contact between the computer and the user, usually through an input/output device, such as a joystick or data gloves, that senses the body's movements. By using haptic devices the user can, not only feed information to the computer, but can also receive information from the computer in the form of a felt sensation on some part of the body. This is referred to as a haptic interface.