Now that we have seen a bit of what 3D printing can do, it’s time to set our eyes on the way we create 3D objects to be printed. For a long time, 3D objects have been created using either scanners or a “click to add polygon” kind of approach. The 3D software available is both powerful and optimized, but that is not enough anymore. What we need is an easier way to create digital 3D models. Researchers at Purdue University have developed just the tool to help us.
The tool, dubbed the Shape-It-Up, is a Kinect-driven gesture system that allows the user to mold digital 3D models in mid-air. It’s a very Minority Reportesque interface that offers a wide range of different ways to mold and create new digital 3D models. In the future, the researchers over at Purdue University hope that users will stand in front of their computers, with their 3D printers ready, and conduct their way to the final result.
Looking at the demonstration of the design tool itself, you are definitely struck by the futuristic interface and approach of the whole system. Most of us are not used to seeing digital 3D models created in detail on the screen without using some kind of hardware device to input something into a computer. The Shape-It-Up design tool could fuel applications within areas such as games, architecture, art and engineering design.
The developer’s own vision of this gesture system is said to be demonstrated at the Makers Faire event in the San Mateo County Event Center. The design tool is further explained by the team:
“Our goal is to make the designer an integral part of the shape-modeling process during early design, which isn’t possible using current CAD tools. The conventional tools have non-intuitive and cognitively onerous processes requiring extensive training. We conclusively demonstrate the modeling of a wide variety of asymmetric 3-D shapes within a few seconds. One can bend and deform them in various ways to explore new shapes by natural interactions. The effect is immediate.”
Purdue University’s Digital 3D Models Molding Tool