Advances in handheld computers are providing a device that is pocket-sized, ultra-light, and wireless. The new handheld computers are providing an opportunity to not only access information from electronic repositories, but also to run software to perform activities and to collaborate with experts “anywhere/anytime”. The confluence of ubiquitous wireless networking and powerful handheld computers provide a powerful technology base for providing an environment, which can support distributed and mobile usage and enhance collaboration during different product design and development stages. Graphics, which include geometric modeling, is one of the most widely used methods of communication during the design phase. In this paper we present a framework and tool to provide CAD support during conceptual design stage for a distributed and collaborative design environment. The HCAD framework, is based on a combination of handheld computers and servers, interconnected by wireless and wired networks. An agent based approach is utilized to allow collaboration during concept development. The applicability of the HCAD framework is demonstrated through the development of a concept for an automotive center console.

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