Working on a CAD drawing all night may look very different in the near future. In the next few years, you likely will be able to design not only objects but also entire worlds in three-dimensional virtual reality. One of the 3D CAD packages taking the lead in this transformation is MakeVR, a content-creating application developed by Sixense and demonstrated at this year's Game Developers Conference.
At GDC 2013, the system was displayed using a Samsung 3D TV. MakeVR has been adapted to be used with the Razer Hydra controller, a two-hand interface that offers six degrees of freedom as it registers movements in all directions. Users create and manipulate objects, change perspective within the virtual space, and access tool kits and menus with gestures, rather than stretching for a mouse or keyboard.
Just as exciting is the paring of the software with head-mounted displays (HMDs). The team at Sixense, lead by Paul Mlyniec, designed the software with HMDs in mind, and the designers have already managed to get MakeVR to work on the Oculus Rift display.
The Razer Hydra controller offers acute sensitivity and precision -- great for precision design and 3D printing -- but it takes some time to get used to an HMD. The virtual depth perception facilitates controls; it also immerses you in a world of design and exploration. You can import and fully integrate objects from other 3D CAD packages, as well as produce .stl files for 3D printing.
The technology is accessible enough that it will affect us sooner rather than later. The Sixense team envisions a virtual world where a community can share libraries of objects, and entire worlds can be created and explored with friends -- a type of gamification of the design environment. The company says in the video below that a soon-to-be-launched Kickstarter campaign will fund the developments of these features.
The system is at its alpha stage, but the team plans to continue developing tools, create an online object and world repository, develop physics for the platform, and create a collaborative, multi-player platform. It also plans support for depth cameras and other devices.
The system has been in development for three years. Keep an eye on MakeVR and systems like it working to start a trend.
Cabe, this is a very interesting development, not the least in that it involves movement and perception in 3D. Looking at the video you can see the game influence. My son likes to play minecraft. There is even someone who made electrical elements, so you could make a circuit, even a computer with the game. Of course, the types of things that are in the video seem to be sort of conceptual. I am not sure if this is a real game changer. Using a keyboard and mouse people have made some pretty amazing and complex things with minecraft, for example.
When I think of CAD I think of precision. I am not sure this interface gives you that.
Another interesting thing is the use of hand held controllers. I wonder if they looked a gestures only. That would be really interesting.
Wow, my first impression after watching the video is thinking it's like a "Second Life" (remember that "game"?) for CAD developers. It also reminds me of a computer game my nephew plays, the name of which escapes me, in which he builds his own world, including houses and other structures, in 3D. So the game comparisons and inspirations are definitely obvious here.
Gestures used for selecting actions and modes instead of menues? So how am I supposed to remember all 742 different gestures to do all of those different things, and make those selections? And why is it an improvement? It may benefit those who don't read, but I have not met many illiterate design engineers in many years. It may be that gestures would be fine fr some video games, but for those of us with any visualization skills it seems a lot more like changing things just for the sake of changing them. And I still don't understand how it is an improvement. I can see that some sort of 3D mouse could be useful for 3D designing, but it certainly is not clear about how gestures can offer any benefit.
I know SimCity as well, Chuck, and used to play it myself! I figured out the name of the one I'm talking about...it's called Minecraft. I played with my 11-year-old nephew last time I visited my family but I have to say, it was a bit beyond me. He was a pro at it, though. It allows you to build structures and buildings and other things like that.
I didn't realize that people lost such a significant ability to experience this type of thing if they can only see out of one eye, Cabe. But I guess it makes total sense. Even if the other eye compensates, it's still a factor?
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