a Free-Hand 3D Input Interface

Jackie Lee, Yuchang Hu, Ted Selker
Last updated on December 15, 2006

Making 3D models should be an easy and intuitive task like Free-hand sketching. This paper presents iSphere, a 24 degree of freedom 3D input device. iSphere is a dodecahedron embedded with 12 capacitive sensors for pulling-out and pressing-in manipulation on 12 control points of 3D geometries. iSphere exhibits the top-down 3D modeling approach for saving mental loads of low-level machineries. Using analog inputs of 3D manipulation, designers are able to have high-level modeling concepts like push or pull the 3D surfaces. Our experiment shows that iSphere saved steps of selecting control points and going through menus and make subjects more focus on what they want to build instead of how they can build. Novices saved significant time for learning 3D manipulation and making conceptual models, but lacking of fidelity is an issue of analog input device.

A Pilot Experiment
A pilot evaluation was conducted in Nov. 2004. Users are asked to perform several 3D modeling task. (movie 1) (movie 2) (movie 3) (movie 4) (movie 5) (play all)

iSphere was demonstrated in the Things That Think consortium at MIT Media Lab on Oct. 18, 2004. We use iSphere in 3D Studio MAX to make Halloween pumpkins.

iSphere is an intuitive 3D modeling user interface using the information collected from the user to improve 3D modeling processes. iSphere is an input device for modeling 3D geometries through hand manipulation. This device is equipped with capacitive sensors that can respond the proximity of hand positions to 3D modeling systems. It allows users to manipulate 3D geometries using high-level modeling concepts like push or pull the 3D surfaces. By collecting proximity information between hands and input device, 3D systems are benefited to execute modeling commands proactively.

Play and Build
Traditionally, 3D designers plan and build their concepts in 3D CAD systems. The bottom-up approach limits the diversity of design outcomes during the early design stage. We purpose a top-down 3D modeling approch that allows designers to play and build 3D models and develop their concept directly.


The First CAD system

The first CAD system-"Sketchpad" by Ivan Sutherlan, MIT, 1963. It has GUI, multiple windows, trackball, and joysticks.


Lee, C.H., Hu, Y., Selker, T. iSphere: A Free-Hand 3D Modeling Interface, International Journal of Architectural Computing, Issue 01 Volume 04, 2006 (Full-text PDF)

Lee, C.H., Hu, Y., Selker, T. iSphere: a Proximity-based 3D Input Interface, Full paper in proceedings of CAAD Futures 2005. (Full-text PDF)

Lee, C.H., Selker, T., Precher, E., Gens, R., iSphere: a Proximity-based 3D Input Device, poster at SIGGRAPH 2004, ACM Student Research Competition Semi-Finalist. (poster)

We thank Elliott Prechter, Subodh Paudel and Rob Gens for their urop contribution at MIT Media Lab.

Please send your comments to Jackie Lee