SpaceClaim shows its hand(s) with regards to multi-touch

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SpaceClaim has just posted a video on YouTube that is certain to grab the attention of multi-touch CAD fanatics. The video shows off some cool new multi-touch capabilities that are coming in the next release of SpaceClaim set for release this Autumn (Fall) and as far as I’m aware it’s the first time this type of technology has been seen in a commercial CAD system.

The video focuses on view manipulation using two hands, but also new ways of selecting and manipulating geometry including four finger box select and lasso select. There are also new ways to edit the model using multi-touch. You can start pulling on something and use one hand to drag the model away while the face you’ve selected stays put.

Now, if we ever had a topic that divides opinion at DEVELOP3D, this is one. Al Dean loves everything about multi-touch, he really can’t get enough of it and if he wasn’t on holiday at the moment he’d already have written a good thousand or so words on this. I’m a bit more pessimistic, and a little concerned about the potential negative impact on ergonomics as raised by HP earlier this year

I put my concerns to Blake Courter, co-founder of SpaceClaim and he explained that he’d been using his multi touch screen set up like a draughting table, not like a standard monitor set perpendicular to the user, and had had no problems at all, even with prolonged use. I’d also imagine this type of technology might not be used day in day out, perhaps during collaborative design sessions with designers stood around a wall mounted multi-touch display.

Blake also pointed out that the new multi-touch technology is not meant to be a replacement for keyboard and mouse and the mouse will still be very important, particularly where pixel accurate selection is essential.

SpaceClaim’s multi-touch technology is still very much in its infancy, but using two hands to make help design more fluent is certainly an interesting proposition. For example, one hand can stay on model manipulation/selection, while the other is used for changing tools, etc, cutting out unncessary mouse cursor movement.

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We expect to see more announcements like this as Microsoft gears up for Windows 7 (which features touch technology built in), but it’s certainly exciting to see this technology in action.

I’d be very interested to hear your views on this. Do you think multi-touch has a crucial role to play in CAD or is it just a bit of a gimmick?


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