There's been a lot of buzz in the Apple blogosphere over a patent for 3D head-tracking. Apple recently filed for a technology that allows users to move an object (on a computer screen) by simply moving their head or body. There's no need for a mouse or keyboard any more; just look behind an image and it will rotate with you. To help visualize this, we put together a video of how this could be used in 3D modeling:
For all you Rhinoceros (Rhino) 3D fans, here's a clip that demonstrates Rhino 5.0 WIPs new two-point perspective feature (by default, Rhino Perspective Viewpoint uses a 3-point perspective).
All novelty aside, we think there are real-life applications for this technology. In manufacturing, this technology could be used with computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software to manufacture and prototype products. Engineers could quickly change a design, test "what if" scenarios and directly manipulate the model all with a series of hand gestures or head nods (like in the example above of a 3D model in Autodesk® Inventor®).
Of course the technology could be extended to other manufacturing ERP software applications like product lifecycle management (PLM) software. This would be especially useful when manufacturing a complex product with multiple assemblies. Project members could better visualize the product and avoid costly engineer changes later on.
It may be years before Apple takes this technology to market, or until enterprise software vendors integrate it with their existing systems. In the meantime, feel free to leave us a comment and share your ideas on other ways this technology could work in manufacturing design.