d.tools is system designed to build, test, and analyze interactive physical prototypes. The original system, developed in 2006, consisted of a desktop design application, and a set of commonly used circuit boards, sensors, and a small LCD screen. Later on in the system’s development, other common hardware prototyping platforms, such as Arduino, are supported.
In the design phase, the software worked closely with the circuit boards to design interactions based on button presses, sensors, and touch screen interactions. Plugging a sensor into the main circuit board makes it appear as a tool in the desktop application. Live data feeds from a sensor can be used to easily set threshold values for actions to take place based on sensor input. They system is designed to use as little hand-written code as possible, but offers the ability to add Java classes to the system for custom interactions.
In the test phase, the desktop application records video and audio through an external camera, and automatically records the use of each interaction on a timeline.
In the analysis phase, each state transition is paired with its video segment. Designers can quickly access video clips from the tests that are paired with the interactions driving them. State transition charts are automatically generated by the tests, and designers can see what states were achieved, and how the user arrived at that point.
State diagrams generated by a d.tools prototype.
Analyzing multiple interactions at once.