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Two-Fisted Computing 236

Posted by michael
from the kudos-to-submitter-for-spelling-complement-correctly dept.
whiterat writes "3Dconnexion is selling a variety of input devices that provide a left-hand complement to the traditional computer mouse. The devices control the position of on-screen objects in design programs such as Adobe Systems' Photoshop and its 3D modeling application, Maya. That enables designers to work without constantly togging between 'view' and 'create' modes." Smash TV veterans need no extra training.
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Two-Fisted Computing

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  • Adobe Maya? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hendridm (302246) * on Saturday March 27, 2004 @12:04AM (#8687034) Homepage
    design programs such as Adobe Systems' Photoshop and its 3D modeling application, Maya.

    Does Adobe own Alias?

    • Re:Adobe Maya? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ChrisMG999 (308536) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @12:06AM (#8687048)
      No, but SGI does.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @12:05AM (#8687042)
    My left hand finds the URL's
    My right hand...........
  • by adzoox (615327) * on Saturday March 27, 2004 @12:05AM (#8687044) Journal
    http://www.3dconnexion.com/spacetraveler.htm

    http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/powermat e/

    Interesting - looks like there my be a patent infringement in the works here. The Griffin PowerMate is a super useful product for video and time code manipulation.

  • ...please explain how this might be handy? (Pun intended. ;) ) Seriously, though, as I rarely use PhotoShop, and have never done any CAD, I don't see how having a second device for the other hand would be of use. (The article doesn't go into it exactly.)

    It even mentions spreadsheet jockeying, but that just makes me more confused, as I would think you'd be taking your hands off both devices for data entry.

    • by KrispyKringle (672903) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @12:17AM (#8687104)
      Maya isn't CAD, just so you know. CAD is more for engineers; Maya is for design in the sense of cool-looking things (as opposed to architectural diagrams--NB being that I've never actually done CAD, but I do know Maya).

      The deal with Maya is that to easily create in 3d, you actually work in a 3d environment. Navigation, just as in a video game, is done with one hand on the mouse and one on the keyboard. The keyboard hand is used to select tools, etc, and to choose what mode the mouse input goes in. The mouse is used to rotate, scale, and pan the object in front of the camera (or the camera around the object, depending on your philosophy). For example, holding CTRL while using the left mouse button rotates (if I remember right--I really can't tell offhand without actually doing it).

      So because input is so odd in such a program, I can imagine many ways to do it differently (unlike, say, typing, in which there really is only one obvious paradigm--one key per letter). I don't know specifically how they implement this, and I do personally feel relatively comfortable with the current setup, but it could be neat.

      On a tangent, though, I think personally the big issue with working in 3d is not input per se, but the fact that the input and display are both two dimensional, despite the goal being to create something three dimensional. So for example, how two dimensional movements on a mousepad translate into three dimensional rotation can be kinda hard to get used to, and quite hard to be precise with. Also, I occasionally found myself, when I was first learning Maya, trying to move my head to look around the edges of an object (quite silly, I know). So the limitations of a two dimensional screen are also clear.

      • Isn't a lot of the top hollywood (new zealand?) CG created with Maya? From what I know of Maya it is like 3D Studio Max or Lightwave, only better (and more expensive) and it's highly customizable/extendable. I have heard that a lot of the big studios primarily use very custom installs of Maya and something called Renderman (or something similar). Please correct me if I am wrong, I have virtually no 3D modeling experience. I was just suprised that /.ers are more ignorant than I about what I presumed is t
        • I think this sort of thing is probably pretty rare among slashdotters. It's got a really steep learning curve (but then, so does coding and Linux), is taught fewer places, is done less in industry, and so forth.

          Yes, Maya is used in a number of high end 3d design shops, including many, if not all, that make 3d animated movies and special effects (think Shrek, etc). Renderman is a rendering plugin that allows for better looking renders. I've used it, and it does indeed look better, but I'm not expert enoug

          • Just to clear up about the Renderman, it's not just a plugin for Maya. Rather, it's a protocol for rendering engines. Now, Pixar's Photo Realistic Renderman [pixar.com] program is probably the best/most famous implementation, but there are others, such as 3Delight [3delight.com] and the late Blue Moon Rendering Tools.

            It produces better looking renders for a couple of reasons. First, they support just about every rendering gizmo under the sun (ie it was designed from the beginning with support for motion blur). Next, the texture

      • Well said and not a silly observation. Actually CAD *is* now a lot like that, and becoming moreso. The difference between the best CAD and the best animation software is that the CAD stuff associates material properties along with the stuff on the screen via databases.

        Not much different from how animation software incorporates physics (how does a ball bounce naturally?).

        The best engineering software can simulate actual, individual grades of steel and how they react under loads.
      • of the 2d screen because they allow you to associate 3d motion to actual 3d motion with your hand.

        Pulling very lightly upward on one of these will slowly move you toward the model. A sharp tug followed by a slow release rips you toward the model with a nice slowdown just at the end, etc...

        You will find using one of these handy when doing things like shaping surfaces. You can select a group of control points then use the mouse to manupulate them while also roving around the model to see it from different
    • I've been waiting for a 2-mouse system for many years. Pick up this text here with one, this text here with the other, and swap them--operations like that.

      Operating with just one mouse has always made me feel like a bird using its beak to weave a nest. Birds can do a lot of manipulation with a single pointy beak. They can build pretty fantastic nests. But who wants to do projects that way if they don't have to?

      We work with both hands at once all the time in 3D space. Why not on-screen too?

      C. Crowley--Mou
    • Well, being a left-hander, I do things a bit differently. I was raised with the mouse in the right hand, and that's the only way I can use it (I feel wierd using a left-handed mouse). Several years ago I got a Wacom tablet, which is a natural fit for my left hand. So now I find myself always having the mouse in the right hand, and the Wacom pen in the left, dropping both to use the keyboard, of course. It's so natural, everything flows. Mouse scroll-wheel to go through web pages, pen to quickly click on things or get down to business in Photoshop. Not sure about this new approach, I'll probably stick to what I've got. Maybe it's different for all you right-handed freaks out there. heh heh

    • I have played MechWarrior 2 (a game in which you pilot a walking robot) with two mouse-like input devices. This is very uncommon, and shall remain so, but having one more option is always nice.
  • I'm left handed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @12:10AM (#8687076)
    I'm a lefty and have to say this doesn't affect me because I'm so accustomed to using the mouse on the right side. Although this is a nice development, there is no way I'm going to give up the ability to use stylus with a digitizing tablet while at the same time using the mouse. Maybe right-handed people can make use of this.
  • by RalphBNumbers (655475) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @12:11AM (#8687079)
    I don't know about you guys, but I can't move my left hand anywhere near as quickly and precisely as my right.

    On a digital device like a keyboard, where I either do, or do not, hit a target I can get away with this, but an analogue pointing device like a mouse is another question. And I expect using two similar pointing devices in different hands will add some disorientating effects on top of that.

    The device is an interesting idea, now they just need to engineer the people who can use it efficiently.
    • by DenialS (21305) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @12:30AM (#8687175) Homepage Journal
      I'm a righty, but I switched to a left-handed mouse about five years ago after a one-week motorcycle trip around the Great Lakes (intense vibration) followed by a one-week click-fest through the original Fallout RPG.

      Because I make my living as a computer geek, I was surprised and dismayed to find just how messed up my right wrist was after that boneheaded combination of events. I tentatively switched over to using the mouse left-handed, meaning to do it temporarily, but discovered that within a week I was pretty comfortable, and within two weeks I had fully adjusted.

      Five years later I'm still using it left-handed, which seems to mess up both righties and lefties when they try to use my workstation. I used to use xwrits [lcdf.org] to remind me to take regular mouse breaks so I don't (&%# up this wrist too, but I've been bad lately.

      I've thought about a two-mouse system, but editing code and writing tech docs really lends itself to a keyboard. If I was an artist maybe a two-mouse system would let me switch brushes and colours midstroke, but I'm no artist. Just a recently minted ambidextrous person. I suppose if I were in Russia, I could say that the mouse manipulated ME...
      • by killthiskid (197397) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @01:59AM (#8687494) Homepage Journal

        Ya know, you bring up an interesting point, something that I've really notice in myself in the past year of so: I want to be a keyboard commander.

        I look for the key board short cuts for EVERYTHING I do on a regular basis. Anything I can do with out taking my hands off the keyboard is a a moment saved, and when you're moving at the speed of thought... well, that's a good thing.

        Examples: Using firefox. I used to instinctively reach for the mouse when I wanted to click a link... now I find myself just typeing the text of link in, and Firefox goes to it. Killer.

        Co workers: I design and make online applications for my coworkers, and I KILLS me when they go the a form, type something in, and then remove their hands from their keyboard to click the submit button. I'm always going, 'hey, you don't have to do that, JUST HIT ENTER!'.' Ack.

        Programming. I've gotten to the point where when I edit, compile, deploy code, I can do it all with out using the mouse. I just avoid it. I went so far as to install a macro program that will execute commands that are not available in a given program. I can bounce around text code with the keyboard faster with the keyboard that I ever could with a mouse.

        I even had a conversation with a lady neighbor friend who works with H&R block that does taxes... her comment was that she does a lot of clicking... and I was like, well, don't hey have shortcuts? A couple of days later, she mentioned to me that she started paying attention to that, and now she can do stuff a lot faster becuase she doesn't have to shift to the mouse as much any more.

      • In my case it was a complete unstable distal radius fracture and dislocation of the distal ulna.

        The hard part is using other people's mice. Most mice are really only designed for right-handers. I actually find a trackball best, as It doesn't have to move around so it keeps my left hand close to the keyboard. Qwerty keyboards are left-biassed for writing text, which is a blessing when you can't use your right hand, but moving back and forth to the mouse is a pain.

      • In 2002, I developed a pinched nerve on my neck that affected my ability to use the mouse with my right hand. I am a natural lefty, so it wasn't too bad to use a right handed mouse on my left hand.
        However, I decided to get a universal mouse (a Microsoft Optical Mouse that is uniformly shaped) and make it a real left handed mouse where the primary button is on the right side. It took me 3 days of using the mouse left handed to train my hand and mind to get used to the form.

        By two weeks, it was natural to us
    • by bluGill (862)

      Left handers learn to use their right hand, you can learn to use your left. You might not ever be as good, but you can do just fine. I can use the mouse in either hand, I like to switch to save my wrists. You can too, if you practice. In fact for some tasks your left hand might be better on the mouse since it frees your right hand to use the keyboard. Or in this case a different mouse.

    • There are some people born with it. I can, for example, switch between left and right mouse without blinking!

      I can even eat using chopsticks, with my left hand, and I'm right handed.

      Maybe if you tied your right hand behind your back for a week, you'd become a *lot* more dextrous with your sinister hand!
    • The device is an interesting idea, now they just need to engineer the people who can use it efficiently.

      I think you could pick it up with practice. Think of playing the guitar. Right handed people don't have too much trouble learning a right handed guitar (where your left hand actually needs to be more agile than your right).

      I'm ambidexterous, so it's not a huge problem for me, but I think even someone who is predominately right handed could learn to use a mouse with great accuracy with his left hand.
    • I'm left handed but I can only mouse right handed. Same with scissors and golf -- you learn to adapt to the tools at hand.
  • by morcheeba (260908) * on Saturday March 27, 2004 @12:11AM (#8687080) Journal
    It's a miniture spaceball with a six degree-of-freedom knob and 8 programmable buttons. website [3dconnexion.com] picture [3dconnexion.com] and pdf [3dconnexion.com].

    Looks nice, but the buttons are placed around the rim and look like they'd be easy to confuse because they're identical.

    (sorry for using the words spaceball, knob, and rim in this post)
    • price (Score:3, Informative)

      by morcheeba (260908) *
      it's also $599 on their net store!! (most of their other controllers are $499 except for the low-cost $399 and the $299 keyboard version)
  • Robotron 2048 (Score:2, Informative)

    by Mr. Slippery (47854)

    I think Robotron 2048 had the double-joystick controls long before Smash TV came around...

    • The editors are making the smart assumption that anyone old enough to have played Robotron either have Alzheimers and forgot it by now, or are too stricken with arthritis to care about any kind of handheld devices.
  • For those who wasted more than a few bucks on the game:

    "More Money! More Prizes! I Like It!"
  • Err... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Xenographic (557057) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @12:14AM (#8687092) Homepage Journal
    I don't know about others, by my left hand rests on the keyboard.

    What I wish is that there was a one-handed keyboard so I could type with one hand and mouse with the other.

    Traversing back & forth between using the keyboard and the mouse causes noticable slowdown when you use the computer all day.

    Maybe that's why I like CLIs so much? *shrug*

    Don't get me wrong, I use GUIs all the time, too, but you can't type in data with a mouse... (at least, not with any program I have)
    • Re:Err... (Score:3, Informative)

      by MyHair (589485)
      What I wish is that there was a one-handed keyboard so I could type with one hand and mouse with the other.

      I'm sorry, you must release your 557057 user ID and go to the back of the line. :-)

      There are Dvorak one-handed keyboard layouts for your system, whatever it is. In Windows you can change to it in the control panel; In X I know it can be done but don't know how offhand. Several Slashdotters use this scheme, and at least one will probably beat me to a reply since I'm using the old slow QWERTY layout.
      • I'm using the Optimoz [mozdev.org] mouse gestures in Mozilla now, not to mention the convenient password manager. The password manager is the only one that really saves me typing instead of just making clicking more efficient, but they're still nice... :]
    • Re:Err... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bluGill (862)

      First of all, have you sat with a stopwatch and timed yourself, or does the mouse just feel slower? When TOG created the mac he did that, and discovered many tasks where the CLI felt faster, but by the stopwatch the mouse was. This includes time switching back and forth between the keyboard and mouse! Note that this is a more limited statement than most mac users think, the mouse is not a perfect input device. Nobody normal person writes a novel with only the mouse.

      As for data, when you are working wi

      • I'm a touch typist.

        Unless I have to type something really convoluted or an odd key combination (fsck is strange to type, with that unnatural key combination, it lends itself to mischevious typos... unless you alias the typo to the command) or perhaps browsing a complex man page (even the sendmail man page beats having to deal with Clippy *shudder*), there are some things that a CLI is just better suited to.

        Not to mention that you can pipe multiple commands into each other without having to wait for the in
      • You are missing his point. He didn't say that the mouse felt slower than a CLI. In fact the entire desire for having a one handed keyboard is driven by the fact that you know the mouse is faster and you don't want to keep taking your hand off of it.

        I used to do a lot of CAD work when I was younger. Like most any graphics programs you constantly alternate between choosing your tool and providing direct input with the mouse. The two methods of doing this were either to type the command, or click the correct
      • I'd imagine that any CLI vs. GUI comparison is going to depend a lot on the task at hand.

        Task 1: Delete a file in the current folder: GUI probably wins, since this specific task was anticipated by the GUI designers.

        Task 2: Rename 30 files changing underscores to dashes and change the first character of the filename to 'f' if the first character is 'd': CLI probably wins, primarily due to the fact that it is easier to pipe different tools together to achieve the desired result.

        There is also the mat
    • Well, it would be difficult to make a one handed full keyboard... Maybe by having key combos and fewer keys, but still tricky. However, an interface could certainly just constrain itself to using keys on the left side of the keyboard to allow a user to effectively use it with one hand on the mouse. The Windows clipboard hotkeys are actually quite good for this.
    • Re:Err... (Score:2, Informative)

      by kistral (757265)
      Oh, but there are several one [slashdot.org]-handed [halfkeyboard.com] keyboards [half-qwerty.com].
    • That was the plan (Score:5, Informative)

      by steveha (103154) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @12:36AM (#8687202) Homepage
      The original creator of the mouse, Douglas Engelbart, always assumed you would use a one-handed "chord" keyboard with one hand, and use the mouse with the other hand. From what I have heard, if you invested the time to learn this, you could really rock.

      http://sloan.stanford.edu/mousesite/1968Demo.html [stanford.edu]

      steveha
    • Re:Err... (Score:3, Informative)

      by dutchdabomb (248104) *
      You could always get a Twiddler [handykey.com], one of these one-handed keyboards [infogrip.com], or one of these [frogpad.com].
      • You could always get a Twiddler, one of these one-handed keyboards, or one of these.

        Ugh. You can keep the twiddler. I tried one of those for a while. It was an older Twiddler 1, awhich is a slight bit less ergonomic than the Twiddler 2, but they haven't fixed the real problem. Try it yourself: put your hand in this position [handykey.com] for a few seconds and you feel your whole forearm start to freeze up. It's great as a one handed, no desktop keyboard, but it's an RSI waiting to happen. That Frogpad [frogpad.com] thing looks inter

    • Yes, one handed keyboard layouts do exist, the best known are the left and right handed Dvorak layouts. They are included with all versions of Windows past 98SE.

      Pretty much all they're useful is when one of your hands has become disconnected from your body, as it much slower to type with one hand(50WPM max or so), even slower than it is to switch the right hand from mouse to keyboard rapidly.

      I'm still looking for this layout for KDE3/XFree86 4.4, or how to make my own layouts.

      • Ask, and ye shall receive!

        Unless you want to define a whole god damn system-wide keyboard with XKB (THIS IS NOT FUN!!!!), the easiest way to do this is to create an xmodmap that maps the keys to the positions you want.

        I know little about Dvorak keyboards.. I'm going to assume that the function keys and arrows of a regular Dvorak keyboard match the same keycodes as a left-handed dvorak. In that case, you could set your keyboard to Dvorak layout (KDE provides an easy facility for this) and then fix the k

    • Or how about a two-handed keyboard that lets you mouse?

      I bought an IBM TrackPoint keyboard, and I love it. Sure, the TrackPoint is more cumbersome than a regular mouse, but since most OSs these days support multiple pointing devices, you can use it in addition to a regular mouse. If I need to do a lot of keyboarding but only a little mousing, I can use the TrackPoint; if I need to do a lot of mousing but only a bit of keyboarding, I use the mouse.

      If you really want a one-handed keyboard, as others

  • this [griffintechnology.com]. Which clearly is designed to just look cool (and is successful, I'd say).
  • i guess this has to be asked... i use autocad and photoshop quite a bit. in photoshop, you have to constantly swtich to a zoom mode to move around the image you're working on. same in illustrator, pagemaker, etc, etc. in autocad, same deal, except your left (other) hand can use keyboard commands since there is a command line. anyways...

    why hasn't someone written a driver which lets you use a second mouse/trackball as a "view" device. for example, in autocad, it'd have the same functionality as the main mouse, but would be dedicated to view commands.
    • That's a very good question, and I've never seen an answer. I would also like the idea of multiple pointers, but my guess is that Windows or X couldn't deal with it.
      • That's a very good question, and I've never seen an answer. I would also like the idea of multiple pointers, but my guess is that Windows or X couldn't deal with it.

        Sort of. There are programs that can handle multiple mice (in fact that RagDoll Kung Fu game can use up to 6), and you can use a mouse and a tablet at the same time. XP aparently doesn't mind having multiple mice plugged in, but only one can control the cursor.
        • but only one can control the cursor.

          Rather, they all control the cursor. On my laptop, I can simultaneously guide the pointer with the trackpoint, the touchpad, and a USB mouse.

          While Windows just considers all pointing devices equivalent, these programs know how to differentiate the events.

    • why hasn't someone written a driver which lets you use a second mouse/trackball as a "view" device.
      Some games have a feature like that. You can drive with a joystick in the right hand and look around with the mouse in your left hand. It seems like European Air War and Red Baron 3d had that ability.

      Of course the regular quake mouse + wasx is also quite similar.

    • Almost every tool has a key attached to it, so you can switch to it. In 3d programs, learning the hotkeys is necesarry to do anything in a reasonable ammount of time. In photoshop it's less necessary, but still a tremendous time saver.

      Pressing "m" for marquee would be faster than moving a mouse to the toolbox and click the tool. Also, you'd need AMAZING hand eye coordination to use two mice at once. Just try using one with your left hand (or right, if you're a lefty).
    • You may have worked in CAD a lot, but not in 3D space like Pro/E or SolidWorks. People who use these, and I know a lot of them swear by them once they learn them.

      The device allows you true 3d manipulation. You use the ball by twisting, pushing/pulling to the left/right/front back, and then by lifting and depressing the entire ball/puck/whatever this thing uses. When you add a couple buttons at the fingertips around the ball you've got a hella powerful interface.

      It's crazy how useful these are, I'm only
    • Programmable mice certainly exist. And you probably have more than one port that you could plug a mouse into. So get another mouse and have at it.
  • No. (Score:4, Funny)

    by alexburke (119254) * <slashdotmail@ale ... minus physicist> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @12:22AM (#8687137)
    I could really have done without the mental imagery associated with the concept of double fisting. Thanks for the headline. Not. :P
  • "3Dconnexion is selling a variety of input devices that provide a left-hand complement to the traditional computer mouse."

    thought we already had a "device" for our left-hands...

  • So why not just get someone to write whatever software/plugin/driver is needed to use something like the Nostromo Speedpad (designed for gaming)?

    Big deal.
    • I have one of these. It is very configurable. You just assign keystrokes, toggles, or combinations to keys. I haven't actually used it for any work, but I don't do much work on my computer anymore anyway. It's great for games. Slight pain of setting it up for a new game when you get one, but after 10 minutes setting the configs to how you like it and you are set. It's better than losing your place on a keyboard.

      I think they even came out with a new one. I have the older N50. The N52 looks like it has an ex
  • My idea.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by iantri (687643) <iantri&gmx,net> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @12:53AM (#8687266) Homepage
    Now this could be an incredibly bad idea in practice, but I've always kind of had an interesting idea regarding mice.

    I'd like to be able to have two mice, two pointers, on the screen at the same time. Say you're working in Photoshop. It's a pain to have to go to the left-hand side to switch tools. What if you could select tools with the left-hand mouse and paint/select with the right-hand mouse? (This is different from what they are doing in that I would like two seperate, fully functioning mice and cursors.)

    It ain't possible in Windows.. is anything like this doable with X under Linux?

    I don't know, it could turn out to be a terrible idea in practice (end up something like trying to pat your head and rub your belly at the same time), but I think it would be neat to try..

    • I also thought this would be neat, except for AutoCAD...make a line, and each mouse controls the endpoint of a line so you can just snap in there, or stretch something, or use one mouse to rotate as you were copying, or control both rotation and scale. Still, it would be tough to get used to, and possibly not worth the trouble.

      But for Photoshop, what's the point? Unlike AutoCAD, Photoshop has single-letter hotkeys for practically all of the toolbox buttons. You can put one hand on the keyboard, the other o
    • by pipingguy (566974)
      I'd like to be able to have two mice, two pointers, on the screen at the same time.

      Wouldn't that mean four times as many shutdowns? I.E., "Windows has detected mouse movement, You will have to restart your computers twice."

      Oh, you're using Linux, sorry about that comment. And to the other guy that was saying the same thing twice, see both of my comments above.

      -Sir George Head [confused.org]
  • by modder (722270) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @12:54AM (#8687269)
    And put your mouse on the other side.
  • Didn't Microsoft make a device for RTS games that was essentially a moulded puck that your left hand rested on that let you scroll in whatever direction, and perform macro'd actions? I can't recall much about it though... It was probably a "Microsoft ____ Commander" of some sort.
  • I already have a Shuttlepro v2 [contourdesign.com] that I use extensively in Photoshop and Illustrator.Ironically, I don't do video work but the thing is a godsend for undo/redo, zoom and other common tasks.
  • by K8Fan (37875) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @01:02AM (#8687305) Journal

    The TDI Explore system (the 3D software that was purchased by Wavefront, merged with Alias and became Maya) was based on the SGI "knob box".

    This was a set of 8 rotary encoders, and virtually every function used the knobs. For instance, X and Y movement would be handled by the mouse, and Z with a knob. Z, Y and Z scaling would be three more knobs. Z, Y and Z rotation would be another three.

    The knob functions would change based on what object you were manipulating. So the camera would have "Field of View" as one knob, and while the mouse handled U and V translation around the target, a knob would handle "trucking" (movement towards the target).

    This was everywhere in the program, and I found it to be the fastest 3D interface I've ever worked in. The whole idea of "one hand on the mouse, one on the keyboard" is actually a canard - most people actually type with both hands, and have to bring their main hand into play to type anything of any length.

    Of course the system had keyboard shortcuts. But most keyboard shortcuts are used to switch the mouse's functions. With the knob box, we had 8 adjustable parameters, plus the mouse. There are few items on a 3D world that have more than 8 parameters to change at a time.

    I miss it.

    • I don't know. I do a lot of modelling in Lightwave. I've got all of my most commonly used commands remapped to use the left side of the keyboard, including shift and control. I don't have to use my right hand on the keyboard for anything except, of all things, the number pad. I'd rather have it on the left side of my keyboard, honestly.

      My big complaint about most 3d modelling interfaces is that they're incredibly dumb. I have yet to find one that will let me remap the axes of my mouse (or other controller)

  • Yes I know it's a filthy habit but substitute coffee/jolt/coke with a cigarette and that's what my left hand is being used for while doing any animation and/or general computing.
  • The devices control the position of on-screen objects in design programs

    Makes sense to me; in fact I proposed such a device to Infogrip [infogrip.com] about 10 years ago.

    This is not to claim that I'm some sort of genius, it just seems to be an obvious progression for someone that needs to access a lot of variable-level commands regularly.

    For example, all the variations of copy, rotate, extend, offset, and the most important one: undo.

    When working in 3D design, you need at least 2 views of everything since it's ea
  • by randall_burns (108052) <randall_burns AT hotmail DOT com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @01:30AM (#8687391)
    It shouldn't be that hard to digitize every possible movement of the human hand is capable of -and provide reasonable tactile feedback(say vibration). That would open a lot of gaming and teleoperation potential if it were mass marketed.

    I'm amazed it is taking so long to get there.
    • It shouldn't be that hard to digitize every possible movement of the human hand is capable of

      ...and video record a lot of booger-mining activity, I'll bet.

      Whoops, sorry! I thought we were talking about crude clothing [shomertec.com].
    • The mass-market data gloves are not here because the technology is still patented. The main patents were granted from 1975 through 1977, so those suckers should be expiring any moment now. Check out:

      • Kuipers, J., "Object tracking and orientation determination means, system and process". US patent 3 868 565 February 25, 1975.
      • Kuipers, J., "Tracking and determination orientation of object using co-ordinate transformation means, system and process." US patent 3 983 474 September 26, 1976.
      • Kuipers, J., "Ap
  • by zachlipton (448206) <zach AT zachlipton DOT com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @01:32AM (#8687406)
    (note: I have no association with Contour Designs, just a love for their products)

    This is nothing particularly new. I've been using a Contour Designs ShuttlePro [contouravs.com] for years now with my left hand. It's a Jog/Shuttle controller, which you can of course use for video editing, but it's completely programmable for any other use, so I've configured it for back/forward buttons when in Mozilla, delete/compose/send/reply buttons in my mail client, scroll up/down in most applications (it's far easier on the hand then a wheel mouse), etc...

    It's well worth checking out, especially because of their great programmable software which lets you do just about anything from the controller. It takes a little getting used to, but worth it in the amount of time it saves.

  • by Yosho_Katsuhito (752804) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @01:33AM (#8687413)
    the $499 price tag is definately just silly. for about $35, I bought the serial version in a slightly different piece of plastic, called the SpaceTec SpaceOrb.

    1. Find awesome concept company about to go under and buy.

    2. Change design a little, and sell for 5-6 times the price.

    3. PROFIT!

    I am sorry, but I still stand behind modifying a PS2 AsciiSphere (the console version of the same hardware! check the insides! identical parts!), or just simply getting a ps2 - usb adapter. cheaper cost, same quality.

    http://www.planethardware.com/spaceorb/asciisphe re .html

    6 axis of awesome. Serious Sam was never quite the same after this toy :)

  • by ControversialPosting (765859) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @01:50AM (#8687473)
    (From this month's Game Developer Magazine [gdmag.com]), by sean wagstaff

    "If you work in 3D, navigation in space probably occupies far more of your day than you realize. But just as a painter doesn't give much thought to how he positions his brush on the canvas, experienced 3D artists don't really think about moving around in three-dimensional space. Unless you're using an unfamiliar application, say, switching from Maya to 3DS Max, navigation is simply an integral part of what you do and there's not much room for improvement. Or is there?

    The $599 Space Traveler, which looks like a volume control knowb (complete with a purple LED accent on the buttons around it's rim) is designed to make 3D operations faster and more intuitive.

    Using the Space Traveler is almost immediately familiiar. You plug it into your USB port and install the driver software (plug-ins are provided for Maya and Max, and built into MotionBuilder, Cinema 4D, and BodyPaint 3D, but the controller doesn't work with every 3D tool). To use it, you simply push, pull, tilt, and tist the single contol knob. Your finger movements translate directly into 3D space- x,y, and z rotation and translation, often referred to as six degrees of freedom - in your application. Lift th knob and you move up in y, push it forward and you move forward in z. Twist the knob and you'll rotate in y; tilt it, and you'll pitch forward or back, left or right. The tricky part is learning not to traslate on z when you pitch on x, and not to translate on y when you actually mean to roll on z (a temporary filter can be turned on that blocks non-dominant movements). But with a few minutes worth of practice to get a feel for it, the Space Traveler becomes very natural to use, although it is quite sensitive to even fine movement. However, you'll soon find yourself tumbling a scene around as easily as you would with your standard keyboard and moust combinations, and rotating a camera is certainly more intuitive than, say SHFT-CTRL-ALT-middle-mouse dragging.

    Which brings us to the most obvious question about this device: who needs it? If you're already comfortable working in a 3d application, and navigation with the standard key commands and mouse actions has become second nature, why bother with yet another input device? In my experience, many 3D operations, such as architectural modeling, dynamics, and texture manipulations, simply require too much keyboard input to benefit from the Space Traveler at all. I need my hands on the keyboard, and mouse, and instant access to pop-ups and marking menus provided by my right hand mouse button, which just doesn't leave enough hands for a third input device.

    On the other hand (literally) when it comes to operations that require one-handed navigation, the SpaceTraveler is a terrific idea. For example, when sculpting an organic model or painting textures on surfaces with a Wacom tablet, you can rotate and tumble the model with one hand, while painting with the other. While doing character animation, the SpaceTraveler can be used as a low-speed motion capture input device that lets you use gestures, rather than explicit rotations, to move a joint, although you'll have to set up your characters to work with this input. The device's eight buttons can be mapped to common keyboard shortcuts, and the defaults for Maya activate the Hot Box, translate, rotate, and scale commands. However, the buttons are too small with terrible ergonomics, and I still need to use the keyboard for other commands, such as the marking menus.

    The SpaceTraveler, as the name implies, is small and portable. Although on-the-road walkthroughs of real-time-3D scenes seem unlikely, I found the SpaceTraveler useful as an accessory to a high-end 3D laptop for bringing work home. My Compaq runs all my 3D applications, but the built-in trackpad is all but useless for 3D navigation, and the keyboard is cramped, with a non-standard layout, which also makes navigation clumsy. The SpaceTraveler really i
  • by PotatoHead (12771) * <doug@opengee k . o rg> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:03AM (#8687512) Homepage Journal
    the little knob with the fancy brushed metal look and blue LED's is cool and small, but really it's just a

    Spaceball.

    They have been around for a long time. CAD programs such as, Pro/e, I-deas, Solid Edge, Maya, Alias Studio Tools and others all have support for these devices, though Maya only recently joined that group for some reason.

    The primary advantage is being able to very quickly establish a particular point of view for working on the model. A secondary one is to be able to dynamically change that point of view without having to leave the command you are in, or divert your mental attenion away from the task at hand.

    Most other input schemes involving the keyboard and mouse cause you to give up your current state only to rotate or scale the model then re-establish said state. With one of these it is possible to be picking on things, making decisions, assembling parts all while moving (or flying as I see it) around the model space.

    They also save considerable time over traditional nav tools, even if they are well developed and mature tools. Most nav tools have the hardest time helping the user deal with large changes in scale or orientation. Often the best comprimise is to use stored views in lieu of many repetitive command, mouse drag, command mouse drag sequences.

    These devices allow motion in all 6 degrees of freedom without any context changes. A simple pull of the knob upward maintained for a half-second or so, combined with a slow twist throughout can perform the same function as zoom all, pan, zoom window or area, and rotate commands do.

    (Picture looking at one small part of a 1000 part assembly knowing the next item of interest lies behind you and to the left. If you were to just 'move' there that is what these little devices do. Using the keyboard and mouse is like telling somebody else where the item is and how you would like to get there. --For what that is worth!)

    They tend to be costly little buggers though.

    It takes about 2 hours to bond with the device. After that, you will either love it, or hate it. A lot of this depends on the tool at hand as well. Some CAD tools have pretty good nav tools, so you don't have as much pain dealing with them. Others basically demand a controller like this (hey Unigraphics!) to get work done in a reasonable manner.

    This new little toy has 5 or 6 little buttons around the edge that can be programed for different tasks. The device communicates via USB. Most programs need a driver of sorts, though they can be downloaded for free from the website. Some packages have the support built-in. (I-deas, Unigraphics, Pro/e, Alias Studio, others...)

    If you have large hands, this particular model will annoy you because it is little. Get one of the older devices that looks more like a hockey puck attached to a little stand. --Easier to manupulate, cheaper, and works exactly the same way.

    Personally, I really like these things. Having used a number of CAD programs over the years, I can say they make a big difference. Traditional MCAD programs benefit most from the device when users are performing assembly and modeling, though to a lesser degree for the latter.

    They are almost useless for 2D tasks because very few drafting / detailing programs actually make use of the device. For those that do, being able to pan and zoom while picking is nice, but often not much of a help over traditional view manupulation tools.

    You can also do bizzarre things with it as well. Doing fly-through animations manually, just by flying around the model is pretty cool. It's easy to whip one of these out compared to keyframing all the different camera locations, or setting up many different views in an MCAD package.

    If you are lucky enough to have a workstation configured with the 3D glasses and higher end MCAD software, you will find visualization tasks are excellent using one of these, but the 3D will give you a headache after about 30 minutes.

    Anyway, cool stuff that I am happy to see on /. but clearly old news.
  • Lefties unite! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SFBwian (744032)
    "3Dconnexion is selling a variety of input devices that provide a left-hand complement to the traditional computer mouse...."

    I already use my mouse with my left hand, you insensitive clods!

  • Oh boy. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Rew190 (138940) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:15AM (#8687536)
    With a post title like that, you know you've just gotta browse at -1 and scroll straight to the bottom...
  • Jeez, that's a weird writeup. Anyway, Maya already works really well with two handed input: it was designed that way. I remember watching a technical demonstration video back when Maya was still going to be the next version of Sketch, and they were shewing off the chording and hotkey systems that survive to this day. Really a fabulously efficient program... lots of opportunities for constructive muscle memory, which isn't the sort of thing that comes up a lot in software beyond learning to touchtype. I wou

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