The Hand and the Glove... ramblings about making.

Leap Motion

Alongside my exploration of 3D printing I am also interested in the software that we engage with to create the virtual artworks. Standard CAD packages were designed for engineers and more recently, animators. As I am neither of these, I find that the software has its limitations. Though there are a number of applications, such as Sculptris and Forger (available for iPad and iPhone) that involve intuitive manipulation of clay-like primitive solids, they go too far in the other direction. I need something that bridges the space in between, in other words a CAD package where I can generate controlled and accurate curves and convert them into 3 dimensional forms and then work intuitively, stretching, pulling, pushing, adding and subtracting in the same way as I do with clay. If anyone reads my ramblings they may reply to say that they already exist in packages such as Freeform, but have you seen the price? And I’m not sure whether it’s possible to import precise forms and then manipulate them. So, I stay with Rhino3D, as it’s what I have used for the past 7 years and works well within its parameters. 

 And then along comes the Leap Motion, a small USB device that according to the manufacturers promises:

 “With a wave of a hand or lift of a finger, you’re about to change the way you use your computer. The Leap Motion Controller senses how you move your hands, the way you move them naturally. So you can point, wave, reach, and grab. Even pick something up and put it down. Just like in real life. It’s an amazing device for the things you do every day and for things you never thought you could do.” 

 I immediately signed up for a pre-order and then applied to receive one as a developer. I figured that someone here would have coding skills beyond my HTML. I gave it to Lewis Sykes, a PhD candidate here at MIRIAD, who passed it on to Ben Lycett, our new coder in residence. And within what seemed like hours, he had started to create a 3D application where the hand can draw a line in space that can be revolved to form a 3D surface. 

 There’s much more to be done and there’s a large community working on Leap Motion apps for all sorts of uses out there, so maybe my wish for an intuitive, but controllable CAD package is a little closer. 

 We will see, I'll report again as we make progress...