Researchers from the University of Toronto have created software that will enable users to twist, bend, push and pull shapes in two and three dimensions, reports Mike Martin for NewsFactor Network.
Twisting, bending, pushing and pulling a flexible, snakelike tool called the "ShapeTape," University of Toronto computer science professor Ravin Balakrishnan and his team claim they can computer-generate two- and three-dimensional images without ever moving a mouse or tapping a keyboard.
Embedded with fiber-optic sensors, the ShapeTape is a long rubber ribbon with a spring steel core. In tandem with a foot pedal, the ShapeTape guides specialized software that allows users to create virtual shapes on a computer screen. Held in both hands, the tape can be twisted and bent to change image sizes and shapes.
"We're able to do things in the virtual world while maintaining a connection to the physical world," Balakrishnan said.
I can see you scratching your head by now. So, because a picture is worth a thousand words, here is how you manipulate the ShapeTape (Image: Ravin Balakrishnan).
What will be this software used for and when will it be available?
Graphic and industrial designers, for instance, could use the ShapeTape to design and refine technical drawings of such products as computers and cars, Balakrishnan said.
"Commercialization, however, is at least several years away," he said. Presently, "a Canadian company, measurand inc., makes the device, and the software, currently a research application, is from our lab."
More information about the ShapeTape is available from measurand.
Source: Mike Martin, NewsFactor Network, April 21, 2003
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