Toronto: Researchers have developed a new technique that enables computer cursors to interact in 3D, which has applications in a wide range of fields, such as architectural design, medical imaging and computer games.
The system is not so much about turning Word into an IMAX experience as offering designers an opportunity to navigate through and modify their creations manipulating 3D objects with 3D interactions, researchers said.
“Our new technology challenges the notion of what a cursor is and does,” said lead researcher Tomas Dorta, from the University of Montreal’s School of Design.
“The cursor becomes a drawing and controlling plane. The techniques we’re unveiling involves using a tablet to control the cursor, but as it does not necessarily rely on external tracking of the user’s movements, eventually other devices could be used, such as smart phones or watches,” Dorta said.
“We use a Butterfly-net analogy to explain how the cursor selects objects in space – the users simply sweep the 3D cursors through,” Dorta said.
“For the manipulations of objects, the users can use gestures and movements such as pinching and orientation,” Dorta said.
The cursor is in fact being demonstrated within the researchers’ Hyve-3D design system, a full scale immersive 3D environment that enables users to create drawings on hand-held tablets, which can then be manipulated on the tablets to create a 3D design within the space.
As the designers are immersed in their work, for example designing a living room, they can test different furniture options according to the scale and even work on the interior detailing.
The immersive images are the result of an optical illusion created by a high-resolution projector, a specially designed 5m-diameter spherically concave fabric screen and a dome mirror projecting the image onto the screen.
Specialised techniques render the 3D scene onto a spherical projection in real-time.
“Beyond its utility for sketching, we believe the 3D cursor has applications in a wide range of fields, such as architectural design, medical imaging and of course computer games,” Dorta said.
This isn’t a gimmicky rebirth of the cursor, it’s about rethinking how humans interact with computers as part of the creative process,” Dorta said.