Design Engineering

Create 3D digital designs using only your hands

By Design Engineering Staff   


Perdue’s Shape-It-Up software lets designers sculpt virtual objects without mouse or traditional UI.

Engineers who’ve watched the movie Iron Man marvelled at Tony Stark’s ability to design and assemble 3D parts in a kind of holographic space, using only hand gestures as if the parts were already physical objects. Researchers at Purdue University have taken a step toward making this sci fi-inspired design process with a new software design tool called Shape-It-Up.

Using specialized computer algorithms and a depth-sensing camera like a Microsoft Kinect, Shape-It-Up interprets hand gestures and movements to let user create shapes in a computer by interacting with a virtual workspace as the shape is displayed on a large-screen monitor.

Researchers call the underlying technique shape–gesture–context interplay and could have applications in areas including games, architecture, art and engineering design, and also serves the emerging “creative maker” community, the Shape-It-Up creators say.

“Our goal is to make the designer an integral part of the shape-modeling process during early design, which isn’t possible using current CAD tools,” said Karthik Ramani, Purdue University’s Donald W. Feddersen Professor of Mechanical Engineering.


“The conventional tools have non-intuitive and cognitively onerous processes requiring extensive training,” he adds. “We conclusively demonstrate the modeling of a wide variety of asymmetric 3-D shapes within a few seconds. One can bend and deform them in various ways to explore new shapes by natural interactions. The effect is immediate.”


Stories continue below

Print this page

Related Stories