Prototyping with Play-Doh

Play-Doh models arranged on a table.

A new tool employing augmented reality (AR) developed at the School of Information (UMSI) simplifies and shortens the physical-to-digital process for mobile app interaction designers. ProtoAR, developed by Michael Nebeling, UMSI assistant professor, allows designers to work with physical prototypes using paper and clay such as Play-Doh, then easily transition to digital prototyping using their mobile phones’ cameras. ProtoAR will help even experienced mobile app designers who face significant challenges creating AR interfaces and 2D/3D AR content with current digital prototyping tools. “Play-Doh is key here,” Nebeling explains, “since this would otherwise require designers to have significant experience with 3D modeling tools, or limit them to AR content created and shared online by 3D artists.”

Author: Sheryl James, School of Information

Sheryl is a public relations specialist with the School of Information. You can reach her at