The quickly developing world of 3D printing and design is shaping up to radically change the way CAD designers interact with their creations. Not only has 3D printing already brought the design and creation steps closer together for amateurs and professional design teams alike, but new technologies are constantly reshaping the way that digital designs themselves are created and interacted with. One of the newest types of these forthcoming technological advancements is “3-D Haptics Technology,” created by Tokyo-based Miraisens Inc. The company’s 3-D Haptics prototype not only allows digital designers to interact with 3D models of their creations, but to “feel” the virtual objects via use of vibrating sensor units that can be placed on the fingers.
How Does It Work?
The 3-D Haptics prototype uses a virtual reality headset, a bracelet with attached hardware, and a finger-molded sensor that is wired to the hardware bracelet. When plugged into the unit, users can see 3D virtual objects through the headset as if they were in front of them, and then experience the “feel” of them through the finger sensor. The “feeling” experience doesn’t just stop with experience of touching a virtual object, either; the vibrations from the sensor trick the mind into believing that it is experiencing the full tactile experience of pushing, pulling, and touching an object. For example, if the 3D object being interacted with is a virtual button, the user will feel the resistance of the button when they push it, creating the impression that they are interacting with an actual button. In essence, 3-D Haptics makes virtual reality “feel” more real than it ever has before.
A New Age of 3D Design?
3-D Haptics has industry insiders sitting up and taking notice, as it could very well be the beginning of a new era of interactive 3D design. This is the first time that technology has allowed CAD users to actually “touch” their virtual creations and interact with them on a tactile level.
Experts are already discussing the applications that 3-D Haptics could have for different industries. The most evident industry that will want to use the technology is the gaming sector, which can use 3-D Haptics improved 3D sensory input to improve the lifelikeness of its games virtual worlds, creating a more immersive experience. But the potential applications of this technology aren’t just escapist, either. The medical industry is taking notice as well. 3-D Haptics has the potential to be used in delicate remote surgeries, allowing surgeons to control surgical robots while still “feeling” the experience of performing the procedure via virtual reality.
Most relevantly to the world of CAD design, the creators of 3-D Haptics also plan to further develop the technology to create 3D prints via touch alone. By potentially making the 3D printing and design process more intuitive and tactile, this technology has the potential to lower the bar of entry to 3D CAD design, allowing users to design their own 3D modeled objects via touch alone, and to then print perfect replicas of them through a 3D printer.
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