Creativity support tools are increasingly incorporated into design processes. Physical ideation cards have emerged as an especially popular approach, being championed by leading design consultancies. Card-based approaches help structure and democratise thinking around complex themes, enabling teams to collaborate between themselves and with external stakeholders. Designed as part of the GIFT project, the VisitorBox cards are a particularly poignant example of ideation cards, as through their use they can help museum and gallery teams to identify their goals, their audiences, their assets and their resources, and then guide them the design of interventions to effectively meet their goals.

As a standalone tool, decks of ideation cards have been shown to be effective across a whole spectrum of applications and contexts, including Mixed Reality Design, Ethics, IT Law, and others. However there is a largely untapped potential in this space. These card based activities leverage the physical nature of the cards to enable and drive group collaboration and ideation, but do not employ any of the digital enablers we have become accustomed to with current industry standard processes, nor do they take advantage of long term sustained use and knowledge garnered from that use.

Our recent research has established the novel idea of using augmented reality to capture data about how cards are used in design sessions, and then providing designers with visualisations to help them reflect on how teams are thinking (e.g., are they ‘fixated’ or ‘creative’). We have developed the Cardographer prototype to capture and analyse data about card use during and across sessions, preserving valuable design knowledge in ‘Design Repositories’, and yielding new insights through data-driven interactive visualisations which grow continuously as each new design is added to the repository.

You can explore examples of the interactive visualisations for the Mixed Reality Design Cards here, and the Draft repository of VisitorBox here

Cardographer aims to provide long-term intelligent ideation, by contextualising data-driven analytics into actionable insights, both at a institutional level with organisation-based private repositories, and globally with public repositories of shared usage data.


Currently Cardographer is in the later stages of deployment, with a focus on designing how it can be provided as a service to interested partner organisations. We are currently working with a number of companies and institutions which to create their own ideation decks for internal operations, and establish their owns repositories of context specific designs.
Any organisation or individual who may be interested in learning more or potentially leveraging the approach for their own use is very welcome to contact the Cardographer Team!