When we were writing the Virtual Reality issue of Make Magazine, we kept asking ourselves how virtual reality relates to makers. We covered topics like home built headsets, prototypes, custom control systems, and similar electronics projects. However, we didn’t really talk about what people would be using virtual reality for, in terms of making other non-vr related things. This was mainly because there just wasn’t much available in terms of tools. Now, that is changing. We are starting to see a few programs pop up, which focus on creating items for use in other digital media as well as for 3D printing.
I got a chance to demo a program called Oculus Medium, which is like sculpting with a magical clay dispenser. As you can see here, I am able to quickly model organic shapes, spit them out and 3D print them. It totally works!
You may be thinking to yourself, “this doesn’t seem very practical”. Well, for many cases, it simply isn’t! This isn’t CAD software. You won’t be using this, in its current form, to model precise items like enclosures for your electronics. This is more free-form, and really shines when you’re wanting to make things look as though they were sculpted by hand… because they are.
I typically make an octopus when I play with any new material or medium. For one, I really like octopuses, but also it is a complex object with lots of varying angles and shapes. Sculpting in virtual reality really shined when I went to make the tentacles. The process of modelling and placing each tentacle in any other modeling program is a chore. Not only are they complex and repetitive, they move throughout all axes in many ways, often making them difficult to structure when using standard software. In virtual reality, they were a breeze!
Oculus Medium isn’t the only software going in this direction. I’ve heard rumors of a few packages coming soon with varying approaches to 3d modeling in virtual reality, but I haven’t seen most of them appear in the wild yet. Kodon is one that has started making appearances on youtube, and I’m curious to see where it ends up.
The future of modeling in virtual reality is very unknown right now. There are strengths and weaknesses associated with VR, just like any technology, but as more and more people use it, we uncover applications we may not have previously expected.
Frankly, I can’t think of what advantages VR would have for CAD modeling off the top of my head. That doesn’t mean that someone won’t come up with a compelling experience though.