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)
@Beth: I'll admit, at first this knob movement felt strange and awkward. However, my left hand quickly got up the learning curve and became used to the required motions. By the end of the week, I found myself subconsciously reaching for the knob to rotate and zoom the model with my left hand instead of using the standard mouse picks with my right hand mouse. Overall, I liked the idea of using two hands to manipulate and create CAD models (instead of mostly using just one).
These are really neat, usefull, and not to mention fun. I wish I worked for a company that would spring for $75 mice like the one I purchased because it has 19 buttons and track resolution is completely adjustable. I would have my stereoscopic glasses at work except the monitors are 60hz refresh. But wait... I am using a $7,000 workstation with 12 Xeon cores nearly 3Ghz each and it came with a $10 two button mouse/keyboard combo. I would love to see 3D devices in the work place, but I am afraid it's the employee who will be purchasing these things. Until things get a lot cheaper it's the massive multiplayer online gaming mouse for me. Heck, it even has that wow factor where the buttons eluminate and dim.
I think that as people get more accustomed to these new movements, it just becomes a more natural way of interesting with the computer. I've tried to use my daughter's laptop (which is my old MacBook) and I immediately get stymied because the gesturing and pinching movements supported by my new MacBook and that now don't seem strange to me at all, don't work on her system.
Steven Speilberg must have gotten a glimpse at his buddy Steve Job's early work in gesture interfaces for the iPhone and subsquent iPad. On a serious note, it's pretty crazy that what was considered out there 10 years ago is now pretty mainstream. All you have to do is hand an iPhone to a four-year-old and right off the bat, they intuitively know how to size and scroll through screens with gestures and pinch movements.
Beth, I was going to say that a 3D input device is going to be limited by a 2D visualization, but InfiniteZ seems to have the answer to that, with what looks like will be the "holotank" of science fiction.
I think gesture recognition capabilities of input devices will be as revolutionary as the mouse was. The touchpad has already completely changed how I surf the web and work in my computer's OS. Gesture recognition will also be kinder to our fingers, wrists and tendons.
Steven Spielberg had it right. If you remember the futuristic 2002 movie, "Minority Report," Tom Cruise interacted with his computer in 3D fashion, mostly by pinching, drawing and waving his arms. I think this kind of technology is inevitable.
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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