Monday, June 17th, 2013 Posted by Jim Thacker

Mad science: sculpt Unity models in augmented reality

An early demo of virtual reality controls for GameDraw. Mixed Dimensions, the developer of the Unity modelling and texturing tool, is experimenting with support for meta’s work-in-progress AR glasses. (Note: poor audio quality.)

“Have you ever wished you could build 3D worlds with your hands?” asks augmented reality firm meta’s teaser video on GameDraw, raising the bizarre image of artists using their feet to control a graphics tablet while modelling.

But it’s okay: the video soon makes it clear that it is here to sell the idea of creating models gesturally, inside an augmented reality interface, and that’s what it shows – more or less.

Powered by meta’s new VR glasses
GameDraw, which enables users to create and texture 3D models inside Unity, has been available in non-AR form for some time, but developer Mixed Dimensions has just announced support for meta’s new AR glasses.

That makes GameDraw pretty quick on the draw: meta only completed its Kickstarter funding campaign yesterday, and its first dev kits aren’t due to ship until September.

Five fingers good, ten fingers better?
The video, which shows a prototype system in action, points out that the technology will enable artists to use all ten fingers as input devices, instead of just the mouse.

That’s true, but it strikes us that this is a bit like the argument over whether it’s better to use a Kinect or a conventional controller to play Xbox 360 games.

In theory, a Kinect is more intuitive, but in practice, controllers are well optimised for detecting small finger movements, and standing up waving your arms around can quickly become tiring.

If you’re in the Kinect-sceptic camp, we doubt the current demo will win you over: the video only shows simple adjustments being made to 3D models – and to be honest, it all looks a bit fiddly, and a bit laggy.

Try the non-AR version today
It’s still very early days for the technology, though, and GameDraw CTO Bahaa Nojaim’s observation that its upcoming API will enable players to create content inside games may be where the system really finds a market.

If you want to try the old-fashioned, mouse-controlled version of GameDraw, both the free and $45 Pro editions are available now via the Unity Asset Store, where they get good user reviews.

Visit the GameDraw website

Visit the meta website