Ah, the wild world of 3D Interfaces technology. It’s bad enough you’re being forced down the multi-touch path, huh? Well, for those that enjoy the bliss of moving graphical elements around the screen with your hand, the research and experimentation continue.

There’s two sides of the UI tide – restricting you fingers to the screen and the less practical movement within a large 3D space. Does it have to be one or the other? Both? Neither?

Here’s two projects being with some sweet video to make you start exercising those finger musculars

3D Electrostatic Input
First up, Justin Schunick, Mark Hollenbeck, Luke Shaheen, Scott Gillette and Glenn Black from Northeastern University are up to their necks in oscillating frequencies and copper plate capacitance. They’ve taken the Theremin principle of electrostatics and have slapped it a wide array of applications, including drawing and 3D model manipulation.

In fact it’s much like the ShinodaLabs Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display without the tactile feedback. You can learn more project details here and view the video below.

*Update* There’s more photos available here. Thanks Justin!

3D Computer Interface from Free Flow on Vimeo.

Air Bladder Multi-touch
You didn’t think we would have a 3d interface post without mentioning multi-touch did you? What’s extra crazy about this device however, is that it approaches the issue of tactile feedback in multi-touch and attempts to give your fingers and mind a bit of solace for your inevitable future of touch.

For 3D CAD user it almost makes sense that 3D model equals 3D Interface. But most of the experimentation and research is being done with manipulating simple graphics and images. It’s starting to get more involved and these two examples show just how involved some of the experimentation is getting. If I had my pick, I’d go with the ShinodaLabs version. A good mix of both.

However, the practicality and intuitiveness of a touch-screen is bound to beat out a large area installation in the near-term and mainstream markets, even within MCAD/PLM arena. So, for now, we’ll be constrained to using 3D applications on a 2D screen… ya think?

Bladder buttons via Gizmodo


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.