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Imagine: you make a sculpture out of a clay-like substance, touch a wire to it for a second or two, and the shape appears on your computer in your favorite 3d molelling software, ready to be textured or animated or otherwise manipulated...
Mix into an electrically conductive moldable substance
thousands of tiny devices. Each device would recieve from a set of low power radio signals information making it possible to triangulate its position. Each would then transmit the information electrically on a small part of the frequency band through the conductive substrate. If each of these tiny position-beads only periodically sent a burst of position information, it should be possible, with a few seconds listening, to have enough information to relatively accurately model the sculpture on a computer.
Perhaps the power could be supplied somehow by energizing the substrate substance, but I dont know exactly how.
The actual computer reconstruction of the sculpture could be powered by a "metaball" concept.
(?) Laser Modeling
Company Providing Rapid Prototyping via Laser Technology [NXM, Oct 17 2004]
(?) GA tech research
Students/Faculty design a liquid filled 3d input device [neuroticus, Oct 17 2004]
EE Times: Software uses sculptor's touch on virtual objects
...Kesavadas' ModelGlove, however, enables a designer to sculpt virtual clay using exactly the same hand motions and sculpting skills used with real clay. In fact, a real piece of clay is a part of the setup. [bristolz, Oct 17 2004]
[dragice, May 28 2007]
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||They already have stuff like this.(Or at least it's in a prototype form) It was on 'Tomorrow's World' about 3 months ago - bringing 3D modelling to the masses (the masses with £30,000 to spare, that is...).
||It looks a bit like the 3D Studio Max interface, & you have a big dod of clay sitting in front of you where your keyboard normally is. As you mould with your little tools, a virual 3D replica appears on screen.
||I seem to have some psychic link to "Tomorrow's World". (see annotations to "Find Snipers") I went to their site, but I didn't see a list of things they covered. Is there an online archive?
||To get this out of the lab--build in redundency. Eclose it in a vessel and charge it capacitatively to make "lightning" flash from the surface. Your system should be able to measure the rate and direction of electrical discharges generated by this and produce a 3-D rendering of the surface topology.
||You could also just get yourself some bakeable clay, and get one of those little 3d tracing devices you see on the discovery channel every other day, if im not mistaken, several people have made really low quality ones with a set of mindstorm legos, they run about $150 a set. shape it, bake it, then trace it, may not be the most graceful method, but its a tad more practical than nano silly putty and lightning bolts.
||3D digitizer is what I assume you mean, [ziji]. Sculpting a macquette and then digitizing it is a common modeling method for CGI character development.
||I can see the disadvange of this compared to traditional 3D digitzation. Cost (1 laser vs. innumerable microtransmiting beads) and resolution (laser resolution is limited by the wavelength of light, vs. limited by the radius of the beads). But what advantage does this have over existing laser based 3D digitizing tequniques?
||I worked on a sucha when at IBM research, more than 10 years ago. As links correctly show, its mostly baked. But no need for any substance, just follow the hands with a camera, or a glove. Google for tactile gloves. Also look up "Air Guitar"...