Industrial design and development is performed through a range of processes such as analysis, process planning, design engineering, assembly planning, manufacturing, inspection, etc. Professional designers utilize the Internet and Web technologies to collaborate and improve the new product time-to-market, supply chain management, and to reduce development life-cycle cost, in order to stay competitive.
The technology developed to support professional designers focuses mainly on the modelling stages of the design process while the early conceptual stages remain unexplored. The conceptual stage of the design process is mainly focused on ideas generation, which are evaluated against general requirements. Distributed collaborative design is a complex process, and the lack of computer support tools in the field makes it difficult for Small to Medium Enterprise (SME’s) businesses, to bring new products to market, on time and survive market competition. There is a great need for seamlessly integrating product development processes, into a comprehensive collaborative design environment, that could assist professional product designers when distributed during the early stages of the design process, to innovate, and shorten product development life-cycle.
The scope of the COnCEPT project is the implementation of a semantically driven collaboration framework to be integrated into future synchronous/asynchronous collaborative design environments, dedicated to assist professional industrial designers when distributed during the early stages of the design process and in collaboration/communication with their clients. A number of research and technological challenges will be addressed, including the semantic integration of collaborative tools and data, effective methods for communication and interaction among distributed teams, group awareness and the use of metaphors for conceptual design; which have unique considerations and applications during early-stage product design.