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SpaceNavigator...a tool for SpaceCadets and maybe PACS?

Posted Oct 23 2008 1:32pm

I can find inspiration anywhere, it seems. This morning I was perusing the Buy.com website, looking for bargains, when I stumbled upon this entry:
Is working in 3D frustrating? Feel like you can't get the model in the right orientation or move the world to the right location? If only you could put your hand straight into the display and directly interact with your 3D design. 3Dconnexion SpaceNavigator lets you come as close to that experience as you can get without actually putting your hand in the display. Push, pull, tilt or twist the SpaceNavigator's controller cap to interact with your 3D world or model with ease. SpaceNavigator PE supports over 100 popular 3D apps including Google Earth, Microsoft Virtual Earth, SolidWorks, Autodesk Inventor and lots more. Work in 3D as it was meant to be. SpaceNavigator PE is meant for non-commercial use and includes web based support.
Well, most of us do find working with 3D frustrating, as a regular ol' mouse is geared for 2D control. There are various kludges that give us the third dimension, but in general, they aren't very intuitive. You may remember my attempts to make a jog-shuttle device, the ShuttlePro2, work with the Amicas/Voxar 3D software. I really couldn't get it going properly. But keep in mind, Darth Vader's Codpiece was designed mainly for flipping video frames. It does work well for MPR viewing, but not so great for volume rendered images. It just doesn't have a control for the third dimension!


The SpaceNavigator does have a Z-axis control, solving this deficiency:

Pressure sensing technology allows the controller cap to become a virtual extension of you. Push, pull, twist or tilt the cap a fraction of inch to simultaneously pan, zoom and rotate 3D imagery. Increase pressure to go fast or decrease pressure to make intricate adjustments. . . The key advantage of a SpaceNavigator over a mouse and keyboard is the ease of performing intricate adjustments to camera views and models with out repeatedly stopping to change directions, zoom, or rotate models. With a SpaceNavigator you can do all three at once.

Click here for a video of the device in operation.

I guess we've gone from Darth Vader's codpiece to an excised BMW iDrive.

The SpaceNavigator is made by 3DConnexion, a division of Logitech. It lists for $59.99, but Buy.com sells it for $39.99. Having spent more than this on the jog-shuttle, I'm a little hesitant to invest more. But this one is pretty tempting...

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