Design Engineering

Canadian holodeck-like 3D sketching system unveiled at SIGGRAPH 2014

Mike McLeod   

CAD/CAM/CAE slideshow University of Montreal

U of Montreal Hyve-3D system lets designers model in full-scale, immersive environment.

Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.

At the SIGGRAPH 2014 conference in Vancouver, researchers from the University of Montreal demoed Hyve-3D, a collaborative 3D sketching and modeling system that allows designers to not only sketch and model in 3D but also visualize design operations in 3D, without the need for glasses or VR headset.

“The system is a full-scale, immersive 3D environment,” says lead researcher Professor Tomás Dorta, of the university’s School of Design. “Users create drawings on hand-held tables. They can then use the tablets to manipulate the sketches to create a 3D design within the space”.

The system is driven by a MacBook Pro laptop, linked with two iPad Minis, each equipped with a 3D sensor. Designers sketch in normal perspective and manipulate the 2D sketch plane by changing the orientation of the motion tracked iPad tablets. Users can also pan, zoom and rotate the view using the tablet as a touch screen track-pad. Using both tablets, designers can work collaboratively on the same model simultaneously, either within the same space or remotely.

Once created, the 3D sketch fills the room. A widescreen, high-resolution projector bounces the model’s image off a 16-inch dome mirror and onto a specially designed 5m-diameter spherically concave fabric screen. The optical illusion Hyve-3D (short for Hybrid Virtual Environment 3D) produces makes it seem users are standing in the middle of their 3D sketch. As an example, the researchers say, a designer could model the outside of a car and then “move” inside to work on the car’s interior.


“The software takes care of all the networking, scene management, 3D graphics and projection, and also couples the sensors input and iPad devices,” Dorta explains. “The iPads run a Satellite application, which serves as the user interaction front-end of the system. Specialized techniques render the 3D scene onto a spherical projection in real-time”.

In addition to its artistic applications, the researchers say Hyve-3D could have industrial applications including engineering and architectural design as well as game design animation and movie making. Univalor, the university’s technology commercialization unit, is supporting the market launch of the system.


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