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Sketch Your Furniture in the Air 86

justelite writes "Is it possible to let a first sketch become an object, to design directly onto space? The four FRONT members have developed a method to materialize free hand sketches."
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Sketch Your Furniture in the Air

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  • I'm thinking this has other uses, such as feed it a wireframe graphic of anything you like (would be handy for architects) and out the other end comes a ready-made model of your building, object, or what-have-you.

    • Yes, rapid prototyping is extremely handy for architects (as well as engineers, et al) -- if you can afford it. A few schools sport this stuff (MIT), and there are different kinds, but sadly it's not within reach of most designers :(
      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
        Keyword being "afford", no doubt. In some markets, like California, you can blithely pass costs on to your customers and no one will blink. In more rational markets... ha, no way. Will be great when it becomes cheaper and more commonly available, tho.

        [My sister is a partner in one of the biggest architecture firms on the west coast...]

  • by NinjaFarmer ( 833539 ) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @12:18PM (#16632536)
    I always want more ways to do freehand computer interfaces because I am considered disabled [wikipedia.org] by the fascists [logitech.com] who design high end interface devices.

    The Righties keepin'us down.
    • A keyboard isn't left or right handed. And the only mouse I have ever used that is more geared toward righties is the MS intelli-mouse. But there are plenty of excellent mice not geared for either hand. The 5 button Compaq mouse I am using right now is perfectly symmetrical - as someone who is ambidextrous I always think about that before I buy a mouse.

      • A keyboard isn't left or right handed.

        Sorry, but no. A keyboard is relatively easily useable by a left hander (such as myself). However, a standard keyboard layout does indeed show right handed bias - the position of the numeric keypad and arrow keys as an example.

        While it is perfectly possible to use those with your left hand, it isn't as organic as for a right hander, and using your right hand instead would result in a lack of speed and possibly errors, since this is a weaker hand.

        Generally, if I

        • The cursor keys are an advantage for me as a lefty.
          I never understood the WSAD keyboard use when perfectly good cursor keys exist.
          Now my right hand does a good job at handling the cursor leaving my mouse hand free to look around.

          In this regard, I would say lefties have a benefit :)
          • I like it because of all the other keys around wsad. If I were just moving up down left right then sure arrow keys are great but it is nice to have e and q for strafing fast access to the number row for weapon changes etc...
        • by JaWiB ( 963739 )
          Yes, but qwerty is probably better for lefthanders than right handers (e, t, and a, for example, are the most frequent english letters and they all appear on the left side of a qwerty keyboard).
        • by G-funk ( 22712 )
          You're one of those guys who whinges about having to change gears with your right hand, aren't you?
          • by h2g2bob ( 948006 )
            You're one of those guys who whinges about having to change gears with your right hand, aren't you?
            Solution: Move to the UK!
            • by G-funk ( 22712 )
              Well yeah, as an Aussie I always have a chuckle at those southpaws who seem to feel ripped off by the LHD setup they have in the US.
    • On the page you linked to, 3 of the 5 mice shown as examples are ambidextrous.
      • Actually, only one of them was.
        When you have side buttons on a mouse meant for your thumb, they become extremely difficult to avoid/use with your pinky when grasping the mouse.
        If you get on a machine configured to use them its a nightmare.

        • From what you describe, it sounds as though the mouse maker (logitech) is certainly not the one "keeping [left-handers] down", but rather those who configure a computer to use those buttons. Blame where blame is due, but not elsewhere. Any completely symmetric mouse is exactly as well suited (from the point of view of mouse manufacturing) for left-handers as it is for right-handers.
        • ugh... i hate side buttons. i'm a lefty, but i use the mouse with my right hand, and it feels wrong to me to use it with my left.

          however, i can't stand side buttons, because those buttons always seem to be placed *exactly* where it feels natural to grip the mouse with my thumb and/or ring and pinky finger. then, every time i move the mouse, the pressure i apply with those fingers makes the buttons press. even if the machine is not configured to make those buttons do anything, it annoys me and quite signi
      • Actually on the page I linked, there is only a single mouse that is usable by a left handed person (if you want SOME quality in your mouse), and its not even a top end mouse, just a basic form-fitting laser. Plus, the Righties have forced me to use a right handed mouse for so long that I have to relearn how to HOLD the mouse with my left hand. I've tried using photoshop, and while I can draw/paint really well with my left hand, Its extremely frustrating to just try to interface with that program with the
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      So why don't you learn to use a mouse with your right hand? While I'm not left handed, a friend of mine is and uses his mouse in his right hand. He types on the number pad with his right hand. Yet, he writes with his left and bowls with his left.

      I mean, I can't use the keypad on a controller (PS2, etc) with my right hand, but I'm sure I could learn it if I tried (or had a reason to).

      • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
        And in fact if it were not for Nintendo, you might have... Prior to the Nintendo being released the buttons were on the left hand side of the controller, and the joystick was on the right. This lead to games that were predomenantly joystick controlled. After the Nintendo, and all the controllers became in essance, left handed, more and more of the games became button mashers. I myself learned to play left handed when I was a kid, because when the game had button on both sides, the buttons on the left wer
    • I'm sure Logitech (or someone) would produce high end left handed mice if there was a demand for them at a sustainable price.
    • ...mouse with your right hand, leaving your more talented left hand to do what keyboarding you need. I'm left-handed and it just seemed more natural to use the mouse with my right hand. I also use a trackball and vi. Logitech's Trackman is symmetrical for use with either hand.
  • this is rad (Score:5, Funny)

    by Neuropol ( 665537 ) * on Sunday October 29, 2006 @12:27PM (#16632616) Homepage
    it's like etch-a-sketch, pilsbury brownie bake oven, and toothpaste all rolled in to one!
  • Unless you could get this to somehow work with a holographic projection so you could see what you are doing in a realtime fashion, then, the pics in the article speak for themselves.

    And even if it did work, what about design details? It would seem not a truly optimal design solution, but an interesting 3D scratch pad concept

    Perhaps this would work if say, general shapes were queried against an object database or furniture catalogue.
    From the shape and dimensions specified, the best matches in the inventory c
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by brunes69 ( 86786 )
      Umm... I think you're reading too much into this. It's clearly just a proof of concept idea, nowhere does anything indicate these guys are trying to bring this to market anytime in the near future. For one thing, it would not be anywhere near economical - rapid prototyping is still expensive.

      It's just a really cool demo of the kinds of things you may see in use in 5-10 years. I can see an interface where one would wear some 3-D goggles that would let them see what they were drawing not being too difficult t
      • Even without primitives, I bet you could get some pretty good stuff with way of viewing what you're doing, and using existing surfaces as moulds. Want a flat part? Take a book, secure it where you want it, then draw over the surface. I can imagine this being pretty intuitive, even more so if you can then use your futuristic goggle interface to pick up and move the drawn parts.
        • by brunes69 ( 86786 )
          Yeah but that would be a big PITA.... imagine how much simpler it could be if you could click the "line button" on your pencil, click one point, then drag the pencil around while you hold the button, visualizing the 3-D line in your goggles!

          Think of it like a 3-D paint program.
          • In any event, I'm sure it's possible to have an interface that can create far better-looking products than those that are demonstrated. Looking at the multi-touch-interface on /. today, it seems a cool idea to incorporate those gestures into such a thing. I'm pretty sure minority report gloves would come in, somewhere, too ;)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SpinyNorman ( 33776 )
      You don't need a holographic projection - much simpler would be to wear LCD goggles that display what you're sketching, either on it's own or overlaid on reality, combined with what other people in the same room are sketching.
    • Ever heard of augmented reality [wikipedia.org]? That would make this plausible - able to view your drawing as you made it without the need for silly holograms. Also, they were using their 'wand' as a simple pen tool - why not make it like a 3D Photoshop, and have many tools? Basic geometric shapes - primitives - which can be edited and modelled, as well as free-hand drawing and other such tools. Once you've created your 3D masterpiece and aligned it using virtual measuring tools, save it and send it to your 3D plastic mou
    • Stuff that's beige.
  • Very Cool (Score:4, Insightful)

    by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot.keirstead@org> on Sunday October 29, 2006 @12:40PM (#16632728) Homepage
    While all these technologies have been around for a few years, this has to be the coolest combination of them I have ever seen.

    This is the type of story that kind of makes you sit back and realize what a wonderful age we're living in right now. Image - you can draw something in thin air and have it created on demand in a matter of hours. Sure - it's not perfect, and it's not economical to the average consumer, but neither were mobile telephones as little as 25 years ago.

  • So this is what furniture looks like when it's designed by blind people. Or at least people who can't see what they're doing.

    As an art project it's interesting, but as a way to actually design anything its silly. What professional designer would use a tool that gave them no feedback? (Well I suppose there's the extruded dingus, but that takes a few hours.)
  • Unfortunately, the materialized furniture is composed primarily of bullshit...
  • by Old Man Kensey ( 5209 ) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @12:55PM (#16632824) Homepage
    I want to say this is lame -- look at those lopsided, asymmetrical forms, that bland whiteness! But on the other hand, there's something aesthetically pleasing about rounded, continuous, organic forms. Add to that, each piece is unique and "yours" in a way no furniture built from plans or in a certain style can ever be.

    Now, there are refinements to be made. For one, interpreting the motion-capture as spline curves, instead of simple smoothed collections of points as they apparently are doing now, would allow for easy tweaking of the design. It would also allow imposing some automated corrections on the form, like "shift the top of this three-legged table until the center of gravity is on a line perpendicular to the plane of the legs which intersects that plane at the geometric center of the triangle defined by the ends of the legs" (which is to say, "make this three-legged table as stable as possible").

    Or, "make all four legs of this chair coplanar in a plane parallel to the plane that best fits the seat, and make the geometric center of the seat lie on a line perpendicular to the plane of the ends of the legs that also contains the geometric center of the polygon defined by the ends of the legs" ("make the chair not wobbly and stable to sit on")

    • by fithmo ( 854772 )

      Now, there are refinements to be made. For one, interpreting the motion-capture as spline curves, instead of simple smoothed collections of points as they apparently are doing now, would allow for easy tweaking of the design. It would also allow imposing some automated corrections on the form, like "shift the top of this three-legged table until the center of gravity is on a line perpendicular to the plane of the legs which intersects that plane at the geometric center of the triangle defined by the ends of

  • On the right track (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The biggest thing hindering the development of a "Santa Claus machine" http://www.tinaja.com/santa01.html [tinaja.com] imho is design. The biggest problem with the design side of things is user interface.

    If I were talking to a custom furniture maker I would be gesticulating. This device plus a holograph might provide an awesome way to design furniture. eg. I want it this high. Like this? No, a little lower. Like this? Can we slope the armrest down a bit here? Like this? etc. etc.

    The other problem is that most rapid
  • by reydelamirienda ( 892327 ) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @01:00PM (#16632858)
    Let me draw you a chair...
  • by onion2k ( 203094 ) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @01:10PM (#16632926) Homepage
    I rather like the abstractness of the furniture they've mocked up, particularly the swirly chair thing, but I think this has a 'better' use. I'd love to see what sort of 3D forms it'd make from a ballet dancer or a gymnast. Turning graceful movement into sculpture would be fascinating.
  • Um, no. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    For this to be able to work you have to have some kind of tactile feedback. There is a reason none of the things they drew had straight lines or sharp corners.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @01:25PM (#16633050) Homepage

    This was the concept that propelled Autodesk into working on virtual reality in the 1980s. Drawing in 3D on a screen required (and still requires) a complex interface; gestures in 3D looked like a way to make it a freehand job.

    Didn't work. Humans can't draw with any degree of precision in 3D free space. Clay sculpting works because of tactile feedback; it's not a pure eye/hand thing. And drawing in 3D free space gets really tiring within minutes. Technically, you can get the hardware and software to work. But it's too hard on the users.

    So virtual reality CAD R&D was dropped.

    • freehand job
      I'll take one.
    • One thing I was wondering was how did they remember where they drew the original legs or corners to actually remember those points and connect stuff to it. For me, I think as long as I can see what I'm drawing, I'll be okay.
    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
      Or maybe they were just too far ahead of its time. Nowadays there are plenty of graphic artists who are used to working in 3D on a computer screen (movie artists and the like), and ISTM this is just an extension of their existing training.

      [fiddles with air-drawing a box and a chair] Well, *I* don't seem to have any problem with doing it (and I'm not a 3D artist, or any sort of artist), but compared to most folks, I have mondo space-relations accuracy.

  • by RealGrouchy ( 943109 ) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @01:34PM (#16633150)
    Can it draw a bath?

    - RG>
  • by anagama ( 611277 ) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Sunday October 29, 2006 @01:52PM (#16633360) Homepage
    I want to know what the machine is from which the chair seems to rise from a pool of white goo. That's amazing -- what is it called? How much do they cost?
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's called Rapid Prototyping. I've seen two types: one, like in this article, uses a laser to solidify a plastic layer by layer. Others use a powder that is sprayed with glue then recovered with more powder, building up as you go. It works much in the same way an inkjet printer sprays ink on paper. As the wikipedia article says, "Rapid" is a relative term. That chair took SEVERAL hours.

    • by Speare ( 84249 )
      It's stereolithography or another deposition method. You're seeing a timelapse of the process, with one thin layer per frame, photographed only when the squeegie part is out of the way.
    • by raygunz ( 577841 )
      Look at Z Corporation : http://www.zcorp.com/ [zcorp.com]

      There are versions of this that can print in metal even, they fuse a metal powder mixed with some nin-metal binder, then somehow get rid of the binder and fill in with more metal.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ArsonSmith ( 13997 )
        It doesn't print metal, it prints a casting mold that you can pore metal directly into.

  • Yeah, I can the universe of possibilities unstacking before me like mirror images in a barbershop.

    If you can play air guitar, you're already set. Everyone knows what a virtuoso musician you'd be with an actual instrument in your hands. Why not the same for furniture design?

  • Not materializing (Score:1, Redundant)

    by MobyDisk ( 75490 )
    This is very cool. It also has nothing to do with materializing free hand sketches. It is a technique where you can draw in the air, in 3D, then render the image. Nothing is materialized. The Slashdot summary makes it look like some sort of 3D printing device.
  • Head set display? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Benson884 ( 998418 )
    Sorry if this has been said, but couldn't the designers head position also be tracked by the cameras so a view from their prospective could be fed back to a heads up display? This would allow for a real time overlay of what was being designed to be seen on top of the real space. Could be much more useful, almost like making a sculpture. This would be similar to a technique used in LOTR to shoot using a hand held camera in a virtual environment.
  • Big N's next secret project!
  • FTFA : "It is nice. Maybe in the future we can draw a lot of things like a new wife or a new TV." I'm a man, and I feel sorry for the female engeeners that read that... certainly including the two girls that perform the 3D sketching, who are not only cute, but also described as FRONT members.
  • Remember, in Soviet Russia, the furniture designs YOU.
  • The project was called "Installation." I did it in the Aesthetics + Computation group at the MIT Media Lab. http://acg.media.mit.edu/people/simong/installatio nNew/cover.html [mit.edu]

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