by Roopinder Tara, Tenlinks.com
The best 3D interface to CAD product is one that is not yet created. Imagine, if you would, waving your hands in front of you to control an assembly, zooming in and out, moving part in and out, etc. without reaching for your mouse or using the keyboard.
Half the size of a deck of cards, the Leap Motion Conroller detecting finger and hand movement
Enter the Leap Motion Controller. A box half the size of deck of cards sits unobtrusively on the table and it is programmed to detect hands and fingers and their motion. Incredibly precise (the literature claims it has an accuracy of 1/100 of a millimeter!), it makes the Kinect box (the current choice in popular 3D scanning) seem like old news.
I used the Leap Motion Controller during an Autodesk Design Night to lift plates off a human skull. I didn't have to hold a stylus (as with the zSpace device or the Leonar3Do "bird.") I could have been holding a scalpel, though. LEAP people tell me it can detect instruments I am holding. This might be technology that's too good for CAD users. It could save lives. A $79 box, the proper interface, a robotic arm and a brain surgeon in the Mayo Clinic could operate on... well, anyone and anywhere.
While medical applications and CAD seem like the obvious missed market opportunities, the Leap Motion guys seems to be going for the other end of the spectrum with aiming for the mass market, proud of selling in Best Buy with games and simple drawing and paint programs.
I ask about Autodesk applications using it, and the only one so far is Maya. Others like Inventor, Revit, and Civil3D would benefit from such a natural 3D interface, but I get the impression that nothing is in the works.
I guess there's more money with popular applications, even though it is a buck or two at time.
[Reprinted with permission of CAD Insider.]