Prototype device promises 3D computing

A wireless device that detects and uses the detailed 3D movements of a user’s fingertips to control digital information on a computer could have a huge impact on 3D modelling and design.

The as yet un-named technology, developed by Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellow Dr Jack A. Cohen of Warwick University, works by combining information from cameras and wireless sensors.

The technology has potential in the gaming industry as well as other niche markets such as remotely operated machinery, where it could replace or augment trackpads and mice. Instead, people would be able to create and manipulate digital information with their hands in a free and natural way. 

Dr Jack A. Cohen of Warwick University
Dr Jack A. Cohen

Dr Cohen said: ”The power we have in computers is incredible, especially on the graphics side – you can see this through recent advances in gaming graphics. However, how we interact with personal computers has barely changed since they were invented.

”At the moment, computers are controlled using 2D devices such as mice and track pads. Systems such as Leap Motion are a big step up but have limited range and gesture capabilities.

”If we work in 3D then we can really interact with our information – for instance, when designing using CAD packages it can be a challenge to view what you’re working on.

“This system has a wide range – about the width of a desk – and in combination with head mounted displays will allow the user a total view of their design over 360 degrees, including with depth perception.”

The technology could also enable people to perform complex or intricate tasks, such as sorting and processing large and disparate data.

It is currently in prototyping, and is expected to reach the market in the next few years.

Meanwhile, Dr Cohen is seeking engineering or design companies that would be interested in using his technology or testing some early stage prototypes.

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