Working on a computer to make 3D objects can be a very tricky process with a steep learning curve. Now researchers at Perdue University (Indiana, USA) have developed a new design tool enabling users to make virtual 3D objects by waving their hands in the air. The tool uses the popular Microsoft Kinect sensor with custom software algorithms to interpret natural modelling hand gestures. The researchers have snappily named this tool the Handy Potter. Most of the concept models shown in the PDF took only a “few seconds” to make.
The research team introduce their research paper as follows; “We present the paradigm of natural and exploratory shape modelling by introducing novel 3D interactions for creating, modifying and manipulating 3D shapes using arms and hands. Though current design tools provide complex modelling functionalities, they remain non-intuitive and require significant training since they segregate 3D shapes into hierarchical 2D inputs, thus binding the user to stringent procedural steps and making modifications cumbersome.”
Take a look at a video of the Handy Potter Tool in action below.
The video shows a user quickly and intuitively creating simple 3D shapes resembling objects you may find around your house such as a table, a lamp, vase etc. While these are all “lathe” objects that are symmetrical, the system is not limited to such shapes. That is good news because these objects are some of the easiest to make in 3D programs anyway. (I know, I’ve tried. After years of working with 2D illustration tools for print and design work I wanted to make some 3D models and tried various programs ending up with the “simple and intuitive” Google Sketchup which still defeated my efforts to design anything useful!)
Some non-symmetrical shapes made with Handy Potter are shown below.
I’d like to see some videos of the Handy Potter. In particular, to see the user hold the object in one hand and use the other to carve and mould the shape to create a familiar non symmetrical object would be great. Hopefully more development of this tool and videos of it in action will be forthcoming. Easy to use and cheap are two concepts that I really appreciate. It will be really interesting to see how this Kinect sensor modelling technology develops; I could even see it being incorporated into games on the Microsoft Xbox like a 3D version of Draw Something or an adventure game where you make your own tools and weapons.