Now that Google and Microsoft are taking virtual reality seriously, it was only a matter of time before we started seeing some exciting applications start to appear that would be relevant to 3D designers.
As it happens, in the past few months three experimental products have appeared which capitalise on virtual reality for use in 3D modelling. It seems they have all learned valuable lessons from Augmented Reality user interfaces as well.
Virtual Reality CAD Tools Now Available
The first is Sixense’s MakeVR Collaborate3D tool. It is the most basic of the three, and seems to work even without a VR headset. But it shows the principles of two handed environment control and basic 3D modelling.
The second tool is VRClay, which is being controlled via the Razer Hydra and Oculus Rift DK2. Of all the tools here, this is the one that looks most naturally like a 3D CAD sculpting tool, something approaching the basics of Zbrush or Geomagic Sculpt.
The third is Google’s Tiltbrush, and uses the HTC VIVE VR headset and peripherals. While this has the most impressive interface out of the three listed here, it behaves more like painting surfaces in 3D than an actual CAD modeller.
How Will This Affect 3D Modelling?
Since these have appeared, there has been some scepticism as to the usefulness of these 3D tools as substitutes for more traditional professional modelling tools. I cannot say I blame them for feeling this way—when you are used to a certain level of precision and efficiency in your current 3D modelling tools, it’s hard to look at tools this inexact and relatively sloppy and imagine them reaching the same level of precision. What’s more, when you have a wide variety of tools at your disposal within your software, it’s hard to imagine a workflow this different.
However, I would remind everyone that these tools are in their relative infancy. Just as 3D CAD sculptural tools such as Zbrush and Geomagic Sculpt started in a crude way and evolved dramatically, so will these. Likewise, just as those tools offered methods of working quite unlike any other CAD tool in existence at the time, so will this.