Edinburgh-based AnarkikAngels is trying to break down a barrier that we've seen others try to breech: the difficulty in acquiring 3D models. As we've said many times before, 3D printing is simply not going to get off the ground until your mom is able to create or find useful 3D models suitable for 3D printing. Some companies have taken the "Find A Model" approach (Shapeways, Ponoko, others), but AnarkikAngels wants to fix the software itself.
AnarkikAngels has previously developed custom 3D modeling software, and believes they've found a new approach by deeply integrating haptic interfaces into the modeling process. (For those who aren't familiar with haptic interfaces, they are a way of integrating touch directly into the experience via pressure, vibrations, etc.) Their work resulted in the DrawnReality prototype:
DrawnReality is a digital prototype for a 3D conceptualization tool for the creative sector for professional practioners. It offers a more natural mode of working for fluid conceptualisation of ideas, for exploring and visualising, creating and modelling objects - a digital bridge between the conceptual and practical phases of design and the precision of CAD.
And we certainly think so, based on the videos available here.
The prototype appears to be developed for more expensive haptic hardware, but the new project is to develop a system suitable for use with more inexpensive devices such as the Novint Falcon. AnarkikAngels also believes the combination of haptic in one hand and a 3D mouse in the other could be quite powerful.
The project is just starting, and you can even try out the latest early version of the CRE8 modeling software (Windows only). They're looking for participants to assist. If you'd like to get involved, we recommend you shoot right over to their website.