This amazing new 3D sketching system could revolutionise design

Today, at the SIGGRAPH 2014 conference in Vancouver, researchers from the University of Montreal will unveil a new sketching system that blows previous innovations in 3D design out of the water.

It’s called Hyve-3D, which is short for Hybrid Virtual Environment 3D, and it allows designers to easily create a 3D simulation of any object, to the extent that they can get inside, for example, a car, or a room, and get a sense of what it will actually look and feel like. It will assist teams to work together, and if it’s ever made available for home use, people like me who can never imagine what anyone’s describing will no doubt snap it up, too.

As far as I know, it’s not sponsored by Apple but it is powered by a MacBook Pro and two iPad Minis, each of which is attached to a 3D sensor. Users draw on a tablet and then the combination of a high-resolution widescreen projector, concave fabric screen and a 16-inch dome mirror create the optical illusion that the sketch is all around them.

While this might still sound a touch tricky to set up without detailed instructions and a couple of engineers to hand, previous 3D design solutions have been much more complex and too expensive for widespread use.

Professor Tomás Dorta from the university’s School of Design says that the new system’s applications extend far beyond design: that it also has the potential to transform gaming, animation, film-making, engineering, and even medical training. “My team is looking forward to taking the product to market and discovering what people do with it,” he says.

Image credit: Université de Montréal.

Diane Shipley