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A group of students from the Royal College of Art have combined virtual reality and augmented reality technologies with a tablet drawing tool, creating a system that allows designers to sketch in 3D without CAD or perspective drawing.
Gravity consists of a stylus and a tablet, familiar tools used for digital drawing, that have been adapted specifically for sketching in 3D. The tools can link to almost any augmented reality headset and the team have also connected it to an Oculcus Rift virtual reality device.
Developed by RCA students Guillaume Couche, Daniela Paredes Fuentes, Pierre Paslier and Oluwaseyi Sosanya, the product allows any user to draw in 3D without a screen or computer.
"Gravity was developed specifically for creatives," the designers told Dezeen. "We designed it to be simple enough so it could be used by everybody without prior explanation. It makes creating shapes as easy as doodling on a piece of paper."
As the user draws above the clear acrylic sketchpad, radio signals are used to track the movements of the stylus from coordinates on the pad. These are sent to an Arduino board – an open source prototyping device containing a micro controller – which is contained in a black panel that forms one edge of the pad.
This communicates with VR or AU devices to generate an image that appears to float in front of the user's eyes. Controls on the pad can change the planes on which pen is sketching, meaning the drawing can be given volume.
The drawings can be rotated and approached from any angle and other people can view the drawing using their own AU or VR headset, and even add to it.
"The project started with a strong belief; the tools that are commonly used for drawing, designing and making things in 3D limit people's ability to bring their ideas to reality," said the team.
The designers believe the technology could be applied to a multitude of fields, from animation to medical science. "Gravity was designed to be a tool for creation and collaboration."
"We think that new technologies, and in this case, augmented reality, should be used only when it makes sense for the user," they continued. "Designers are always looking for the best tools to effectively bring their ideas to life. We believe this new way of creation will revolutionise the way we, as designers, create."