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DIY Home Projects - 2D Visual CAD

, 4 Sep 2013
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Quickly create DIY home projects, using the power of pictures and easy Computer-Assisted Drawing

Please note

This article is an entry in our AppInnovation Contest. Articles in this sub-section are not required to be full articles so care should be taken when voting.

Preface

  • Platform targeted: Tablet (Retail) 
  • Overview of the application and what it does: see text below
  • Description of the intended uses for the application: see text below
  • Approach taken to develop the application:
    • Windows 8 desktop app, with full use of the camera and multi-touch capability of the tablet.
    • I will later integrate Intel Perceptual Computing SDK to provide gesture and voice command capability.
    • It will work also on desktop and laptop but you can enjoy its mobile feature much more with a tablet.
    • Extensions in version 2 will integrate the voice command capability and the accelerometer, gyroscope, ambient light sensor, compass, GPS, for location and direction aware design.
  • Coding language to be used: C# language for coding and .Net Framework 4.5. Designing of application will be done in XAML (WPF). 

Background

I am writing this app to participate in the Intel App Innovation Contest 2013. In order to understand this, you should have basic knowledge of C# programming Visual Studio 2012 and Windows 8. 

Introduction

This app is for Do-It-Yourself-oriented users. 

Most people who build, rebuild, repair, install and make their own home projects like to design their project first, then carefully select what they will buy, discussing options with experts, friends and family, and finally build, install and maintain their creation. Their basic design tools are pen, paper, ruler, calculator, and local DIY stores and the Internet to find ideas, products, help and learn from peer experience. 

This software application will bring them to the 21st century by allowing them to use their tablet and all-in-one computers during the design stage. 

They will be able to create their plans faster and with more visual appeal, using the power of images. The first image taken will be the location of the project. Basic drawings can be added on top of this image, which will represent the work to be done. 

The application will also keep track of all projects for future reference - like repairs or maintenance. Project sharing in the cloud will allow users to start their projects using someone else's design, improve it, and publish a new version of it. 

Use case- Add a washing machine in the kitchen

Step 1 - Create a new project 

  • Enter basic information:
    • Project name 
    • Description
    • Project owner and participants 
    • Estimated start date and end date 
    • Budget
  • Save project info to local or cloud storage.

Step 2 - Background picture 

  • Select a picture of the kitchen where the washing machine will be installed. It can be loaded from a file, downloaded from the cloud, or taken using the integrated webcam. 
  • The picture needs to be 2D-looking. It means perspectives must be reduced as much as possible. That is easily done by taking the picture in front of the project location - not at an angle. The reason for that is that the rest of the drawing and pictures will be 2D and the resulting plan will look best that way.
  • Use the measure tape software tool to indicate a known length. This will be used as a reference to re-scale images and basic shapes. 

Step 3 - Add elements 

  • Add elements using:
    • The drawing tool for basic shapes like rectangles, squares, circles, lines, text, arrows, sizes, etc. For example, use lines and boxes to show where the electric line is available. Add labels to describe the voltage, switches, etc. 
    • Images from local, cloud storage, or Internet sources. For example, download images of the washing machines you like from the Home Depot or Sears web sites.
      • Most of the time, these images will need to be cleaned to make the surrounding of the object transparent. A small "cleaning" routine will be applied to the image.
      • The measure tape software tool will be used to indicate a known length and allow the right sizing to happen.
    • Add building steps and remarks to your drawings. 

Step 4 - Arrange elements on the project 

  • Move the elements (pictures, shapes, texts, scale, steps) around as needed.
  • Use your tablet, or physical print, or save local/cloud, or share using social networks, you will submit the project to friend, family and experts for feedback. Make modifications and update as many times as needed, until the project is approved. 

Step 5 - Shop 

  • Bring your tablet when buying your appliance, and check with store experts that everything is fine and nothing has been forgotten or wrongly designed.
  • Add remarks and update steps wherever needed. 

Step 6 - Build your project 

  • Use your tablet as a builder's guide.
  • Follow the steps and remarks, and add your comments 

Step 7 - Share your project 

  • Take pictures of your creation. 
  • Publish the project in the cloud for others to see and reuse. 

Points of Interest

  • I enjoy working with Intel computers, Visual Studio and Windows 8. 

Benefits 

  • Helps quickly create photo-realistic home projects
  • Attractive to both left and right brains 
  • Easily modify and update your projects on the fly 
  • Always with you (tablet and all-in-one computers)
  • Share design with friend, family, experts, and ask for feedback and help 
  • Integrate real pictures from online stores and from your own pictures
  • Show your plans to store personnel and ask for validation 

Potential 

  • Cleaner and more refined design 
  • Faster buying decision in store
  • Persistent design that can be reused for repair and maintenance, and for long-term improvement projects  

Future improvements  

  • Allow drawing of 3D objects, rotation of objects, shading, and viewpoint to the scene
  • More image manipulation and colorization options
  • Items listed by theme (kitchen, garage, etc.)
  • List of seasonal items (Summer vacation, Christmas, etc.)
  • Alert messages based on project items (Sales at Home Depot sales the washing machine selected)
  • Location- based promotions from stores
  • List of outside designer/installer to call for help 

History

  • 2 September 2013: Initial description of the idea of application for the Intel App Innovation Contest 2013. 

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

Gilles de Bordeaux
Program Manager
United States United States
Former embedded and applications software engineer 10+ years.
Created and owned a software company for 6+ years.
In management, project and program management for the past 15+ years.
 
Apps published on Windows Store:
- USA Presidents: http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/app/usa-presidents/3d9ba569-dbae-4151-98b7-5fa0d210741e
- My Dream Valentine: http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/app/my-dream-valentine/0d570729-1246-4fac-9c91-a297e08d67b8
 
Apps published on Windows Phone Store:
- Kaleidoscope: http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=1296822f-dedf-4374-9802-84c62002ad20
- Credit card testbed: http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=5c743ff7-650b-447f-be3c-e82007b59bfd
- Morse translator: http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=f60005f0-9303-4c4b-a889-56906d85fc8e
- Palindrome tip calculator: http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=1fe43744-2a59-452e-b3b6-032de300a30b
- Reflex: http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=33f9c0db-205a-43d0-90f0-cc8a328f81fe
- Fun with astronomy: http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=bc0ea5bc-03a3-e011-986b-78e7d1fa76f8

Comments and Discussions

 
QuestionHow's app development going? Will you be submitting on time? PinstaffKevin Priddle22-Oct-13 9:53 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberGilles de Bordeaux6-Sep-13 16:25 

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