Wednesday, June 11, 2014

3Dconnexion: 3D mouse

Steve Colletti from 3Dconnexion visited the Digital Craft Research Lab on Tuesday. I had applied for a grant program through 3Dconnexion several months ago and was fortunate enough to be a finalist. Steve interviewed me a few months ago so that he could find out more about the work that is happening in the DCRL and we talked at great lengths about how the 3D mouse that 3Dconnexion makes, could benefit students working in our lab. We both thought that the research that our students are doing pertaining to CAD modeling and Digital Fabrication and the advent of our Digital Fabrication and Design course work would make our lab a great candidate for this amazing product. 

We had a great talk on the phone back in March, and then in late May I found out that the DCRL had been selected to receive enough SpaceExplorer Mice to outfit our entire design lab as a part of 3Dconnexion's 3D Mouse Grant. We received the SpaceExplorer mice this week and then Steve came out to visit the DCRL and get us set up. My colleague, Adream, grad student, Chad, and Undergraduate Research Assistant, Kaivahn were all there to see the demo that Steve did. Steve walked us through the use of the mouse and discussed the possible areas of study that might benefit from it's use. We primarily used it with Rhino during Steve's time here, and I was blown away by the natural interface with the virtual world that it allows. The mouse is also compatible on PC and Mac.

The SpaceExplorer mouse makes you realize how un-natural a traditional mouse is at moving objects around in virtual space. The team at 3Dconnexion has created something that allows you complete freedom in virtual movement. Keep in mind though that this device does not replace the traditional mouse (rather it could replace the keyboard). Using the SpaceExplorer 3D mouse allows you to move freely and more fluidly through virtual space. The mouse is compatible with too many software applications to list. I was immediately struck by the weight and robustness of the device; it is absolutely rock solid, yet your hand rests comfortably against it and the interface seems natural and logical. The finish of the 3D mouse is also impressive; they are attractive in their design.

Steve discussed other uses such as fluid walkthroughs in Architectural spaces in Revit or Sketch-Up, manipulation of assemblies in Solidworks, and using a drawing tablet in conjunction with the 3D mouse. Chad sampled the 3D mouse in the Grand Canyon via Google Earth and I couldn't believe how smooth it's movement was. Steve even made a believer our of Adream, who is a "difficult sell" on any new technological device. 

Needless to say, we are so grateful to 3Dconnexion for allowing UWM's Digital Craft Research Lab  to be one of the grant recipients of this amazing product. I am sure that the students in our program will be impacted in a positive manner by having access to this great product. I know I can't wait to see what our students design and fabricate using our new SpaceExplorer Mice!

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