May.15, 2013

A new design tool that specialised computer algorithms and a depth-sensing camera could enable designers and artists to create and modify 3D shapes using hand gestures instead of keyboard and mouse.

Shapes like these can be created using a new design tool that interprets hand gestures (Purdue University image/ C Design Lab)

The tool, called Shape-It-Up, could recognize the hand gesture and movement, understand that the hand is interacting with the shape and then modify the shape in response to the hand interaction. It uses the Microsoft Kinect camera, which senses three-dimensional space. The user is then able to create shapes in a computer by interacting with a virtual workspace as the shape is displayed on a large-screen monitor.

"You create and modify shapes using hand gestures alone, no mouse or keyboard," said Karthik Ramani, Purdue University's Donald W. Feddersen Professor of Mechanical Engineering. "By bringing hands into the virtual space with a single depth camera we are able to manipulate the 3-D artifacts as if they actually exist."

Researchers call the underlying technique shape–gesture–context interplay.

"We are going from Windows icons, menus and pointers - or WIMPs - to a post-WIMP, natural user interface, or NUI," Ramani said.

The tool is an advance over a previous version that was limited to creating "rotationally symmetric" objects, or those having the same measurements on all sides.

According to Ramini, the tool could have applications in areas including games, architecture, art and engineering design, and also serves the emerging "creative maker" community.

"We are going from Windows icons, menus and pointers - or WIMPs - to a post-WIMP, natural user interface, or NUI," Ramani said.

"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," Ramani said.

"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."

The creations can then be produced using a 3D printer.

The shapes are created using a 3-D printer. (Mark Simons, Purdue University photo)

The team will demonstrate the technology at the Maker Faire on Saturday and Sunday (May 18 and 19) in the San Mateo (Calif.) County Event Center.

The research findings is published in the February issue of Computer-Aided Design magazine. The paper was co-authored by Ramani, graduate students Vinayak and Sundar Murugappan and postdoctoral researcher HaiRong Liu. The paper is available at here.


Posted in 3D Software



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Chris wrote at 5/15/2013 10:11:38 PM:

This is interesting and I've been waiting for some fully functional 3d manipulation software like that. However, I'm very anxious to see some related technology used with the new leap motion controller technology coming out next month.

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