Tucked amidst the partner displays at this week’s SolidWorks World 2010 show was a virtual holographic system that has the potential to change the way engineers interact with 3-D models.
Infinite Z’s zSpace platform, still under development, aims to give engineers an immersive experience for interacting with 3-D models on a desktop akin to what researchers and designers have experienced in labs with very expensive CAVE systems-albeit on a smaller scale, according to Paul Kellenberger, CEO of the firm, which has been around since 2001, but operating in “stealth mode.” The third-generation prototype on display this week consists of a modified display, a stylus, passive eyewear and the Infinite Z software, all of which work together, allowing the user to directly interact with a model, pulling it apart, looking around it and visualizing how things fit together. The life-like stereoscopic images appear in open space in front of the user, who can then directly interact with them using the special stylus.
Kellenberger says the system, which the company is aiming to release by end of year, could be used to get that same feel for a design that rapid prototyping provides, without having to physically build the model. He said the system would work with all 3-D CAD systems, not just SolidWorks, and the goal is to price it under $10,000.
Kellenberger admits there is still work to be done and Infinite Z is seeding its software development kit (SKD) and system with key design tool vendors so they can potentially modify their programs to fully support the holographic and immersive capabilities of the system.
If reaction from SolidWorks executives and SolidWorks bloggers attending this week’s event is any indication, there’s an audience that’s pretty intrigued by Infinite Z’s potential.