After seeing the snazzy video showing future multi-touch support for SpaceClaim, I went on the hunt to find out a little bit more. Fortunately, I had the email of Blake Courter, Co-founder of SpaceClaim. Great chap, hung out with him at SolidWorks World 2009, of all places.
He answered some questions about MT capabilities, gives a little insight into multi-touch workflow, what he likes about it and what to expect in the future as this type of tech starts to infiltrate our offices.
When will we be seeing this capability appear in the software? What release?
The next major release of SpaceClaim will support multi-touch, shipping in autumn. Yep, this stuff is for real. Expect much more than just view manipulation. Multi-touch is not a replacement for keyboard and mouse, but it’s much better at many things such as view manipulation, box selection, and interaction with the UI. What you see in the video is under heavy R&D, so we won’t have a detailed list of features until we are closer to release.
What will be the requirements for using Multi-touch with SpaceClaim?
You’ll need multi-touch hardware to use SpaceClaim with MT, which is emerging. We will support all hardware that has Windows 7 drivers and select hardware on Vista.
What kind of technology is behind the creation of Multi-touch with SpaceClaim?
The technology is direct modeling. We’ve been planning this for years. We designed SpaceClaim expecting the advent of these interfaces.
Are there plans to combine this with other devices (i.e. pens, stylus, etc) for greater control over details?
One vendor, N-Trig, currently supports touch with a stylus. The stylus helps a ton with accuracy. I also use it with one hand on a mouse and the other doing touch. When I get my own MT monitor I will lay it almost horizontal like a drafting table and have a mouse next to it.
Will it use familiar gestures already being used with multi-touch devices (iPhone, HP Touchsmart, Microsoft Surface)?
We’re embracing everything we can. Three finger appears to be the emerging standard for view rotation, and pan and zoom work as expected. I don’t know if anyone else does four finger box select, but it’s the most awesome way to select ever. It’ll be tough to give exact details until we get closer to shipping.
With the multi-touch input, how do you deal with the high level of detail that is often required with modeling 3-dimensional geometry?
Fingers are indeed fat. Selection filters and query select help, and then there’s the N-Trig displays with a stylus. But the basic answer is to keep a mouse handy for that stuff. Augment, not replace. It’s like switching between a mouse and a keyboard. No big deal if you’re set up right. For now. These things are just getting going.
Any final thoughts on about getting multi-touch for 3D geometry creation off of a 2D surface?
I can’t go back. It’s like driving a fast car, having a good stereo, or eating amazing bread. I feel crippled without it, the same way I feel crippled using the touchpad on my laptop instead of a mouse. Multi-touch provides a higher bandwidth user experience. R&D had to pry their computer from my fingers. It is not a replacement, just a major improvement. I had no idea it would be this good.
Update! – Looks like the SpaceClaim Press Release is out now. Even has some interesting info.
SpaceClaim announced that the company was chosen by Microsoft® as one of a few select Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) in support of the launch of Windows 7 and by N-trig to support DuoSense dual-mode technology, which allows multi-touch in conjunction with a stylus.
Thanks for filling us in Blake. You would thing the gaming industry would be the one using multi-touch interface for their software. However, for 3D CAD interfaces, it almost makes more sense that you would see it here first. For those that haven’t seen the video, here it is again.