Design and Architectural Tool
A significant market for our e-Touch technology is in an area we have coined “Instant Prototyping”. With Instant Prototyping™, a manufacturing company can instantly create a virtual prototype from its digital models for design and analysis purposes. This speeds up the production cycle and mitigates the need for the manufacture of costly physical prototypes. In many cases, our Instant Prototypes™ can completely replace physical prototypes.
Our Instant Prototyping technology has wide applicability in the overall design and manufacturing arena. Any effort where physical prototyping adds to the cost or time of the design cycle is a candidate for Instant Prototyping. It can also be used in processes where the scale of the manufactured product makes physical prototyping less than optimal. Instant Prototyping is advantageous for both very small scale (e.g., microelectrical mechanical systems) and large scale (e.g., buildings or vehicles) product design.
Below are Architectural and Layout uses for our Instant Prototyping technology.
Architectural Walkthrough and Layout
We have developed an architectural walkthrough application for Sandia National Laboratories. This application allows users to load in large scale, detailed architectural models and to explore their design using our e-Touch technology. Haptic technology is used in the user interface to this application and to allow the user to feel the digital models to get a more precise understanding of their nature and extent. In addition, various touch-enabled programs can be launched as the user navigates in the digital realm. For example, if the user enters a “medical building” in the simulation, a medical visualization program can be instantiated.
With our architectural walkthrough application, a user can walk around a virtual building in full 3D.The user can see & feel buildings -- even read posters on the wall.
This effort has allowed us to develop an overall framework that can launch applications based on location in an overall digital model or virtual environment. This technology is applicable to areas such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and has implications for future mass market efforts. The ability to read virtual reality modeling language (VRML) format models was also added to our e-Touch technology during this effort.
With Novint Layout, digital objects may be quickly and unambiguously arranged and placed. Novint Layout was developed for Sandia National Laboratories to aid in the interior layout of buildings. Architectural objects, such as chairs, can be picked up and placed in a touch-enabled manner. The user can feel the shape and weight of these objects and when they collide with other objects in the environment. In addition, the movement of the digital objects can be constrained. For example, the motion of a door can be constrained to pivot only around its hinges.
Although developed within an architectural context, the capabilities found in Novint Layout are important in many applications. Using e-Touch technology for the placement of 3D digital objects means that objects can be organized much faster than when using a mouse and it also means that their placement in the environment can be much more precise. The user merely has to reach out, “grab” an object and place it to get the job done – just as in the physical world. For example, a user can pick up a virtual vase and place it on a virtual table and know that it is properly placed since he or she will feel the vase placement on the table. The Novint Layout effort has allowed us to extend our e-Touch technology to be able to impose motion constraints on digital objects and to handle real-time collision detection between digital models. Constraining and quickly fitting and placing objects are fundamental to many applications including those in design/manufacturing and in the computer graphics and animation industries.
Our initial focus in design and manufacturing has been in the automotive arena. For example our Tactile Device Interface application, developed for a major automotive company, is used to simulate and evaluate car interior design and ergonomics. We simulate a full arm-length area of interaction in a one-to-one scale using a large workspace haptic device.