Sculpting Cars in Virtual Reality

Sculpting Cars in Virtual Reality

Future 3D modeling and sculpting software could offer designers an immersive experience thanks to the new VR headsets and haptic devices.

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While traditional 3D modeling software, either NURBS- or polygonal-based, has a multitude of functions and controls not easily transferrable into a virtual reality context, the sculting techniques could represent a very interesting application, more appropriate for the VR technology.

Yet, transferring digital sculpting techniques into a three-dimensional context poses some challenges, in particular for the need of physical feedback, required for the system interface ergonomics.

Toyota FT-1 Concept - Digital Design Sketching

The two-dimensional creative tools – drawing and painting – have been successfully transferred to the digital world, thanks to the development of graphic tablets and – more recently – advanced interactive screens such as the Wacom Cintiq line
(image: a Toyota designer sketching the FT-1 Concept on a graphic tablet)

Concept Car 3D model in ZBrush by carstylus

In the last few years the technology has also made possible to realistically simulate sculpting in a digital environment with a representation on a 2D display – you can check our ZBrush tutorials section for some great examples of what it’s possible (image: Concept car 3D modeling in ZBrush – video tutorial by carstylus)

Geomagic Sculpt and Touch HaptichA good virtual sculpting system should integrate some form of haptic technology to give force-feedback sensations so that users can “touch and feel” the virtual objects.

Luckily, the price of these devices, once in the thousands of dollars range, is dropping very fast.

3D Systems has recently developed a new line of affordable Touch haptic 3D styluses that should be soon integrated in the company’s Geomagic Freeform and Geomagic Sculpt 3D modeling systems.

The new haptic stylus is expected to have a price in the $500-$700 range, down from a range of $2,400 to $13,000 for existing devices.

Above: The Touch 3D Stylus presented at CES 2015

It will be interesting to see whether this type of device will be adapted for use in an augmented reality interface.

Other independent developers are using different controllers, which may lack the physical feedback of the haptic devices, but are much more affordable.

For example, the video below shows a virtual reality 3D sculpting system that use the Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 VR headset in combination with a pair of Razer Hydra input controllers.

The perspective of virtual 3D sculpting tools appears quite promising, as it combines two different technologies – VR Hardware and 3D sculptin software – which are evolving very rapidly.

Pixologic has just released ZBrush 4R7, with a strong focus on hard surface modeling tools, which makes the software even more attractive for product and industrial designers.

For more information, you can check the article references below:


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