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)
@Naperlou: I definitely see a future for tablet use among engineers, although I guess I didn't envision it as an input device. Glad you brought it up. With more and more engineers out in the field at customer sites or collaborating with design partners in the field, having the mobility and the larger real estate of a tablet platform to conduct design reviews, visualize assemblies, do conceptual sketching--all of that work is easily translated to the tablet platform thanks to the incoming slew of mobile design apps.
Those are a lot of crazy devices. I wonder if any will "win" in the market place. I didn't notice tablet devices, except in the last slide as a secondary device. My expeience is that these are still used by those who need to draw in any detail. Do you see a future for these?
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.