The 3D Cursor

3-D imagery continues to replace 2-D imagery. This technology has been going on for quite some time now and is especially noticeable in the world of video games and  design. Imagine you want to play your favorite 3-D videogame on your big screen television and instead of using a game controller you use your fingers on an interactive tablet to play the game. Sound weird? Welcome to the pioneering world of 3-D cursor technology in design.

In 3D design technology, the cursor hypothetically is no longer limited to navigating and copying and pasting. Instead it can take on interactive abilities much like a game controller, allowing the user to enter into the 3D landscape and interactively navigate and maneuver. Even better, the envisioned 3D cursor has the ability to zero in on any object and cast a 3D net around it. Once the object is netted (selected) it can be moved and manipulated. One new stylus possesses the potential to be used on the interactive tablet to sketch inside the 3D landscape with the sketch then becoming part of the 3D scene with the possibility of being netted and manipulated as well.

The 3D cursor-based design system software was demonstrated at the SIGGRAPH convention in Los Angeles last August by the University of Montreal School of Design. The 3D cursor-based design system software is part of a market launched Hyve-3D system supported by Univalor, the university’s technology commercialization unit through the start up Hybridlab Inc. The Hyve-3D system is a full-scale software/hardware immersive 3D system designed by the University and is currently being experimented in 3D  design, such as architectural design, medical imaging, and computer animation. The pioneering technology is collaborative and allows multiple users to access simultaneously on a shared immersive or non immersive display while at the same time allowing individual observations from different angles and individual manipulations from separate views.

In several recent interviews, lead researcher and professor Tomás Dorta commented that 3D cursor technology isn’t just about giving the cursor a makeover but instead is a fundamental shift in a cursor’s interactive ability in a vast array of applications. He believes that the next generation of computer users will have information presented to them on a 3D landscape as computer interactions become more virtual through 3D technology. Professor Dorta says he envisions 3D versions of a desktop for operating systems to be reality in the near future because they allow easier computer interactions as they are less restrictive and cumbersome then the operational capabilities of the current cursor and its 2D landscape. He says that the computer image is changing, advancing to a more realistic 3 dimensional landscape; this paradigmatic shift creates the need to have a modern cursor that can operate within the three dimensions.

Much like the controller for a video games is changing to keep pace with  advancing 3D technology in gaming, so it seems the cursor may well be advancing to keep pace with 3D technology in design with the envisioned possibility of reaching desktop operating systems in the near future as well.


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