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A Chameleon Tears Down Barriers

A1 Technologies, the folks who make the very inexpensive RapMan 3D printer and more recently an inexpensive 3D scanner, now produce an innovative 3D mouse system: the Chameleon 3D. The Chameleon 3D is actually an effective packaging of software and hardware from other developers.

The hardware comes from Novint, whose very unusual Falcon haptic controller seems quite revolutionary:

The Novint Falcon is an entirely new type of game controller. Replacing your mouse or joystick, the Falcon is, essentially, a small robot that lets you experience true virtual touch unlike any controller in history.

The Novint Falcon lets you control a game in three dimensions, and also lets you feel high-fidelity three-dimensional force feedback. The Falcon controller moves right and left, forwards and backwards, like a mouse, but also moves up and down. When you hold the Falcon’s detachable Grip and move your cursor to interact with a virtual object, environment, or character, motors in the device turn on and are updated approximately 1000 times a second, letting you feel texture, shape, weight, dimension, and dynamics. The Falcon lets you control and interact with games in more realistic way, allowing you to develop real physical skill and muscle memory, adding a new dimension to gaming.

Our sense of touch connects us to the world around us and is an integral part of how we experience things, both physically and emotionally.  In the past, games have incorporated increasingly sophisticated graphics and sound design, but none have added realistic touch, until now. The award-winning Novint Falcon makes virtual items and experiences feel real. Hold the Falcon’s interchangeable Grip and feel a character’s actions, instead of controlling a game with mouse-clicks and meters.  Feel the weight of a basketball as you shoot it towards a hoop -- the momentum and impact as you swing a virtual golf club and strike a ball -- the recoil of a weapon – or the physical characteristics of virtual objects and environments.


Software for the Chameleon 3D comes from Anarkik3D, whose Cloud9 modelling software leverages the hardware capabilities of the Falcon for 3D design. To get a really good feel for how it works, you might want to watch their video demonstration. Their software is:

designed for working in a virtual 3D environment with a sense of touch … Real world interaction with a virtual 3D model or surface leads to an intuitive style of working, much more engaging and creative than conventional means of interfacing with 3D modelling and design programmes.

Now we see A1 Technologies putting these two incredible technologies together in a very inexpensive package: £350 or approximately USD$570. We see this as taking down two of the persistent barriers to widespread 3D technology: simplified creation of models and access to inexpensive equipment. Well done, A1!

Via A1 Technologies, Anarkik3D and Novint (Hat tip to Rachel)


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