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‘Makers’ 3-D print shapes created using new design tool, bare hands

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Posted May 17, 2013
Shapes like these can be created using a new design tool that interprets hand gestures, enabling designers and artists to create and modify 3-D shapes using just their hands as a "natural user interface" instead of keyboard and mouse. The tool was created by Purdue researchers. Credit: Purdue University image/ C Design Lab

Shapes like these can be created using a new design tool that interprets hand gestures, enabling designers and artists to create and modify 3-D shapes using just their hands as a “natural user interface” instead of keyboard and mouse. The tool was created by Purdue researchers. Credit: Purdue University image/ C Design Lab

A new design tool interprets hand gestures, enabling designers and artists to create and modify three-dimensional shapes using only their hands as a “natural user interface” instead of keyboard and mouse.

The tool, called Shape-It-Up, uses specialized computer algorithms and a depth-sensing camera to observe and interpret hand movements and gestures. The user creates 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. The tool could have applications in areas including games, architecture, art and engineering design, and also serves the emerging “creative maker” community, he said. 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.

“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 3-D printer.

Read more at: Phys.org

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