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PolyU’s New Lab Merges AI and Design

Image Credits: HK PolyU, Press Release

Established to lead the global dialogue on creative innovation, the Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence in Design (AiDLab), was officially launched recently as one of the multiple research centres within the InnoHK research clusters under the flagship initiative announced in the Chief Executive’s 2021 Policy Address.

Founded jointly by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and the Royal College of Art (RCA), United Kingdom, the laboratory is the region’s first research platform that focuses on the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) with creative design.

AiDLab brings together top international academics, designers, and engineers, to conduct human-centred interdisciplinary research providing multi-faceted solutions for current global issues using AI and distinct innovative designs. To actualise the laboratory’s aim to create impact by enhancing the design of everyday products and services via the seamless integration of AI, the laboratory researches in three main areas:

Ergonomic and Inclusive Design

This programme deploys AI technologies to develop innovative body measurement and posture correction solutions that advance fashion design and wearables for health and well-being.

Innovation in Product and Service Design

This programme focuses on participative, user-centred design research employing co-design methodologies to contribute to the continuous and iterative evolution of AI creative systems. The research incorporates machine- and self-learning systems to accelerate design processes for products and services.

Intelligent Fashion Design and Quality Control

This programme explores algorithmic design that integrates machine intelligence and human knowledge with respect to fashion and textiles, leading to advances in design, quality control and manufacturing processes.

As part of the launch, the laboratory is introducing a key project and a major facility:

(I) Artificial Intelligence-based Interactive Design Assistant for Fashion (AiDF)

Developed by Professor Calvin Wong and his team, AiDF is a market-first technology that empowers novices and experts to work with AI for generating ranges of original fashion designs speedily, based on their personal creative inspirations. Unlike current mainstreamed AI technologies on new image generation, which rely solely on the digital input of existing real fashion images to output new designs, AiDF generates unique creations based on the designer’s original inspirations and personal style. Co-developed by AI experts and designers for designers using a specific combination of AI technologies, the system addresses the practitioner’s needs during the ideation and development process.

With just a few simple clicks, designers can select personal options to further refine or include within their collections, enhancing conventional, intensive studio processes with agility, efficiency and flexibility. AiDF is moving on to rigorous trial use studies conducted with regional and international fashion practitioners before its official roll-out to the industry. A demonstration was provided today by the AiDF team. The technology and fashion collections driven by AiDF will be showcased at a fashion show to be held in 2022, to share innovative designs resultant from the interaction between humans and AI.

(II) Integration of AI and dynamic scanning for wearables

AiDLab researchers will create ergonomic design breakthroughs for functional apparel and wearables with the dynamic movement data captured by its state-of-the-art facility, the “4D Body Scanning Lab”. It is the first of its kind in Hong Kong and possesses a marker-less scanning system (3dMD, USA) with 30 machine vision cameras to capture a range of poses, actions and gestures, in four dimensions.

A recent demonstration showed how researchers will be able to use the system to capture human subjects in dynamic movements. One application example is that by integrating the scanned motion data of the human body with pressure/temperature distribution data as well as AI techniques, predicted pressure/temperature distribution of different types of human body shapes can be generated to facilitate customised functional apparels and wearables design and product development. This facility will support the acquisition of new knowledge for AiDLab’s projects that focuses on optimal fit and comfort for well-being.

Looking forward, AiDLab will establish the Artificial Intelligence in Design Consortium (AIDC), to bring together businesses, designers and engineers who share in its common vision to inject new impetus into the industry with the synergy of AI and design.

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