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Sketch Lab by Digital Eskimo

Digital Eskimo turn a reused architect’s desk and two Wii consoles into the world’s coolest online collaboration tool.

Sketch Lab by Digital Eskimo


December 14th, 2010

Originating in a project with the National Institute of Experimental Arts (NIEA) and debuted at the Hothouse Symposium in July 2010, Digital Eskimo’s Sketch Lab allows ideas to be scribbled and shared visually.

“We wanted to create something that was physical, and which utilised a combination of open source technology and our own custom work,” said David Gravina, Principal of Digital Eskimo. “Something that was really a marriage of design and technology.”


The Sketch Lab was made in collaboration with artist Chris Fox. An old architect’s table was sourced, sculpted and modified; a Perspex screen was inserted into the middle.


An image is projected onto the screen by a mounted projector. A customised pen emitting infrared light allows users to draw on the board, their scribblings picked up by two Wii remotes which then transmit the information back to the unit. 


“The original idea,” said Gravina, “was about creating a tool for people to experiment with contentious sites around Sydney. We loaded up the system with several sites and created a drawing tool.”

This first version, dubbed the Urban Sketchlab, was a way to explore creativity and urban space. By drawing over projected images of contentious sites, users engaged with the built environment, communicating their ideas and creating awareness about sustainability issues.


The second incarnation of the Sketch Lab involves visual notetaking, with conference attendees making digital sketch notes of their reflections about a particular speaker and sharing their creations online.

Future possibilities for the Sketch Lab prototype are endless, as the Digital Eskimo team continues to integrate and explore design, open source technology and communal benefit.

“Our model of design is all about collaboration,” said Gravina. “We’re always looking at what the human need is, and how we can design for people.”


Digital Eskimo

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