New design tool helps users create computer-generated shapes without using a mouse
A Purdue innovation that enables people to use a new class of hands-free, gesture-based 3D modeling software is being commercialized by Zero UI, a Cupertino, California-based company that specializes in 3D modeling technology.
The innovation, called Handy Potter, could have applications in the areas of games, architecture, art and engineering design. The technology addresses the limitations of conventional computer-aided design tools that are needed to create geometric shapes by using a depth-sensing camera with advanced software algorithms to interpret hand movements and gestures.
The technology was developed in the laboratory of Karthik Ramani, Purdue University's Donald W. Feddersen Professor of Mechanical Engineering and co-founder and chief scientist of Zero UI.
"This technology is very simple and easy for users, but behind that simplicity are complicated and intelligent algorithms that represent a state-of-the-art synthesis of machine learning and geometric modeling," Ramani said. "The technology could change the way people interact with the computer. This tool allows people to express their ideas rapidly and quickly using hand motions alone. We want to make it a natural action for people to gesture to a computer screen and create things with their hands."
Zero UI founder and CEO Raja Jasti said Handy Potter is designed to help anyone create digital models such as drums, tables, lamps and other items on a computer and then print the designs on a 3D printer.
"We believe there is a desire to create things in all of us and this technology enables anyone to use this amazing technology to design and print things on a 3D printer," Jasti said. "You don't have to be an architect or an engineer to use this software."
Ramani and his Purdue research team were the first to develop and demonstrate a gesture-based shape-modeling paradigm, which won the all-conference best paper award at the ASME 2012 International Design engineering Technology Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference.