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.
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