I’ve been doing some simple testing with a bizarre 3D modeling tool, BOTS101, and I’m wondering where this journey will end.
BOTS101 is one of thousands of chatbot services in today’s digital world. A chatbot is a seemingly intelligent service whose interface is text, or “chat”. The idea is that you can use familiar, or conversational style of interaction instead of a formal syntax. “Commands”, if you can call them that, are loose and varied; the chatbot system must interpret the unpredictable text into a useful, known action. The goal is to enable a much wider population to use the chatbot than would use a more challenging system.
Chatbots are being created these days to address all kinds of real issues; a common implementation would be to replace human call center agents, for example.
But BOTS101 is doing something very different. They are using a chat interface to do 3D modeling. You can literally say things like “make a box and rotate it” and it will do so.
The service contains a number of 3D modeling actions that can be chained together to devise unusual 3D models, which can then be downloaded in STL form. Here is a simple (and silly) example I just did with BOTS101:
create text: X and extrude it 50mm.
rotate on Z 3 objects.
rotate arbitrary make 9 copies.
This may appear to be somewhat reminiscent of OpenSCAD, the programmatic 3D modeling language. However, OpenSCAD is very formally defined, whereas the BOTS101 service is looser.
It’s not exactly proper English, but neither is it a formal programming language, as you can vary the format somewhat and still get the same result. The chatbot under the covers interprets the input text and transforms them into 3D modeling commands.
Using ingenious sequences of these “commands” in conversational form can result in some unusual and sometimes easy to create 3D models. And they are generally 3D printable.
Heh, my “rotaty X” 3D model is perhaps an example of something that might not be so easily 3D printable. But perhaps I’ll try it!
I encourage you to take a look at BOTS101 help page, which provides documentation for all the “verbs” you can use in the 3D modeling conversation.
But let’s go a bit meta here. I suspect the idea behind BOTS101 is to break through that barrier that prevents “normal” people from developing their own 3D models. If that’s the case, then does BOTS101 achieve that goal?
Unfortunately, I don’t think they quite get there. Certainly I could see interested consumers creating 3D models of simple objects: “Make me a rounded star”, but more complex designs, particularly those that might have to interact with other parts may be quite difficult to create.
Learning how to make complex objects is likely still beyond the patience of most people, even with the simplifications offered by BOTS101. That said, I believe BOTS101 is a very strong step in a good direction. I expect that it could be made to enable the creation of more complex objects by integrating even more base knowledge into the system. Example: “make me a 50mm heart-shaped knob that fits on a Whirlpool model AC51526”. Then you’ll see this service used a lot more.
At this point BOTS101 appears to be in beta form. They provide 10 “credits” that are usable for a single “run”. After you exhaust them, you will have to purchase more at around USD$0.25 each. I’m not sure this is a usable pricing model as designers would more than likely want to attempt many iterations before finalizing a design, burning many, many credits along the way. Ten credits is woefully insufficient for someone to even learn the system, let alone use it. That is not a pricing formula consumers would accept. Perhaps a credit charged per download instead?
Meanwhile, I encourage you to try it out and see what you can quickly make.