3D sketching system ‘revolutionizes’ design interaction and collaboration

University of Montreal researchers present their Hyve-3D system at SIGGRAPH 2014 conference
August 12, 2014

University of Montreal researchers present their Hyve-3D system at the SIGGRAPH 2014 conference this week (credit: University of Montreal)

University of Montreal researchers have developed a collaborative 3D sketching system called Hyve-3D (Hybrid Virtual Environment 3D), which they presented at the SIGGRAPH 2014 conference in Vancouver this week.

“Hyve-3D is a new interface for 3D content creation via embodied and collaborative 3D sketching,” said lead researcher Professor Tomás Dorta of the university’s School of Design.

“The system is a full-scale immersive 3D environment. Users create drawings on hand-held tablets. They can then use the tablets to manipulate the sketches to create a 3D design within [that] space.” For example, they could be designing the outside of a car, and then actually stepping into the car to work on the interior detailing.

How it works

Designing a car with Hyve-3D (credit: University of Montreal)

The 3D images are the result of an optical illusion created by a wide-screen high-resolution projector. A 16-inch dome mirror projects the image onto a specially designed 5-meter-diameter spherically concave fabric screen. The system is driven by a MacBook Pro laptop, a tracking system with two 3D sensors, and two iPad mini tablets. Each iPad is attached to a tracker.

“The software takes care of all the networking, scene management, 3D graphics and projection, and also couples the sensors’ input and iPad devices,” Dorta explains. “The iPads run [an app] that serves as the user-interaction front-end of the system. Specialized techniques render the 3D scene onto a spherical projection in real-time.” (The Hyve-3D software also works on conventional 2D displays.)

The iPads are tracked in six degrees of freedom, meaning the iPad itself can be moved in three axes or rotated in three axes.

Currently, 3D design requires complicated or expensive equipment. “Our system is innovative, non-intrusive and simple,” Dorta said. “Beyond its obvious artistic applications, Hyve-3D clearly has industrial applications in a wide range of fields, from industrial or architectural design to engineering, medical 3D applications, game design animation and movie making. My team is looking forward to taking the product to market and discovering what people do with it.”

Univalor, the university’s technology commercialization unit, is supporting the market launch of the system.

Abstract of SIGGRAPH 2014 conference presentation

We present the Hybrid Virtual Environment 3D (Hyve-3D), a new interface for 3D content creation via embodied and collaborative 3D sketching. Hyve-3D introduces a semi-spherical immersive 3D sketching environment based on spherical panoramas and uses 2D drawing planes that are intuitively manipulated in 3D space by the help of handheld tablets that are tracked in 6DOF. Orthogonal sketches created by the user on the tablet are used to build the 3D scene based on the position of the drawing planes.