Are you a CAD or 3D design tool user feeling stuck in a rut? Do you think your creativity is being stifled by the limitations of your mouse? Don't sweat it. There has been a burst of new, innovative technology advances that promise to change how engineers interact with their longstanding 3D design tools.
It's not just 3D mice, though there have been some interesting developments on that front. Taking a page from smartphones and tablets, manufacturers are melding gesture-like capabilities into all sorts of input devices. The new features allow designers to sketch drawings or manipulate 3D models with more natural hand movements, instead of the cryptic and often complex mouse clicks traditionally associated with CAD or freeform sketch tools. Immersive 3D technologies are also becoming more accessible, bringing capabilities previously reserved for expensive virtual reality CAVEs to the desktop in affordable, turnkey offerings.
Click the image below for a slideshow of some fresh new input device ideas that may have you packing up your mouse.
The Sensable Technologies PHANTOM haptic device line allows users to touch and manipulate virtual objects. The PHANTOM Omni model, the most cost-effective one in the portfolio, offers a compact footprint, and a IEEE-1394a FireWire port interface ensures quick installation and ease-of-use. Pricing starts at around $2,400. (Source: Sensable Technologies)
@SparkyWatt: Changing work patterns and work habits is the biggest obstacle to any new technology implementation. It's up to the providers of these new devices to make it somewhat intuitive to operate with tried-and-true design and engineering tools otherwise any added utility is for naught.
It isn't really that you have to do it that is the problem. I like learning new things, in good order. The problem is that you have to do it so often. If I have to spend a week on the learning curve, I would like to go a couple of months working efficiently. The real problem is that this week you have to learn this change, next week you have to learn a different one. It is hard to be really effective when you are never off the learning curve. This situation is taken from annoying to explosive by managments who have to have everything yesterday. You can't keep up at peak efficiency. Being on the learning curve all the time just makes it three times worse.
I think not enough credit was given to Microsoft's Kinect system, which was originally created for XBox and is now being integrated into many no-touch devices due to its low cost (resulting from large scale production).
It would not surprise me at all if this incredible device is integrated into the upcoming Windows 8 suit of computers, tablets, and phones. Exciting times are here; that is for certain!
If he imagined the gesture interface of today back then (without a peak from his buddy Steve Jobs) then Speilberg missed out on the opportunity to count tech genius among his many talents. I'll have to check out the movie, Chuck. Thanks for the heads up!
If you haven't seen Minority Report, Beth, you should see it. Tom Cruise opens and closes screens and moves things around by waving his arms and using his hands, in a way the way that I imagine is similar to what you've described here. Also, I have a hunch you're right about Spielberg's connection to Jobs. I don't know anyone else who could have imagined that so accurately years before it actually happened.
@tekochip: No doubt people hate change and you count me among that mix. The idea of having to learn new things simply to handle the day-to-day tasks that you do everyday is where people typically have the most opposition. But as you say, it's opening yourself up to new ways of working that ultimately might save you time and help you do a better job in the process.
Beth, I definitely agree with you on this one. My wife and one of our sons surprised me with a Kindle Fire for my last birthday. I have been working with this marvelous device for several days now and have found the operation remarkable in that there is no real strain on my wrists or hands. The apps that can be downloaded do just about all of the things I need done and then some. I would gladly move my computer mouse to the shelf if I could use the tablet. I can see a tremendous advantage for a CAD or CAE operators that live on a computer day after day. I had no idea there were as many "options" relative to data entry. I suspect most if not all of these are on the "market" right now and can be purchased. Great post.
I think Engineers are probably more open to change than most people, since we are always working with new tools and technology, but it seems that the average person is reluctant to change. I always get a kick out of people opening up their laptop and the trying to find extra space to plug in a mouse into it rather than using the touchpad or other input device on the laptop.
Virtual Reality (VR) headsets are getting ready to explode onto the market and it appears all the heavy tech companies are trying to out-develop one another with better features than their competition. Fledgling start-up Vrvana has joined the fray.
A Tokyo company, Miraisens Inc., has unveiled a device that allows users to move virtual 3D objects around and "feel" them via a vibration sensor. The device has many applications within the gaming, medical, and 3D-printing industries.
While every company might have their own solution for PLM, Aras Innovator 10 intends to make PLM easier for all company sizes through its customization. The program is also not resource intensive, which allows it to be appropriated for any use. Some have even linked it to the Raspberry Pi.
solidThinking updated its Inspire program with a multitude of features to expedite the conception and prototype process. The latest version lets users blend design with engineering and manufacturing constraints to produce the cheapest, most efficient design before production.
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