Sketchup Blog - News and Notes from the Sketchup folks

3D mousing comes to town

Posted by Aidan Chopra, Product Evangelist

As more and more of what folks do on the computer involves interacting with a 3D environment, I predict we'll see a whole pile of new input devices coming onto the market. Mice were invented for a 2D digital experience; the mouse I use now is basically the same as the one I was using ten years ago.

There's a relatively new company called Sandio Technology that's come up with a way for makers of mice and other input devices (like keyboards and trackballs) to incorporate 3D interaction into their products. A few months ago, Sandio launched a new mouse, the Sandio 3D Game O2, that showcases its technology. It's a snazzy-looking little object, and it works with SketchUp, Google Earth, Second Life and a host of other applications and games. Here's some of what Sandio says about their mouse with respect to SketchUp:

  • The 3D mouse is an input device that acts as a regular 2D mouse but also provides 6 degrees of freedom in 3D environments.
  • The included software is very easy to use and includes a plug-in autoloading driver to run with Google Sketchup. When you open Google SketchUp, the driver automatically opens and, using the 3D buttons of the 3D mouse, you can manipulate the camera or an object in different directions. By default, the driver begins in Camera Mode.
  • In Camera Mode, you are able to shift the camera any direction, left or right, up or down, and zoom in and out using only the 3D buttons on the mouse. You can even rotate or roll the camera, and pitch it different ways. The driver has a toolbar with 6 icons in Google Sketchup that will allow the user to turn on or off different degrees of movement or decide on what axis they are rotating on.
  • In Object Mode, the user has even more options. If you highlight a cube, for example, and do not make it a Group, you can twist or pull the object in different directions. Making it a group will let you slide an object left to right, pull it towards you or push it away from you, move it up or down, and again, with the different options on the toolbar, either rotate, roll, or pitch the object around the axis or else rotate, roll, and pitch the object on its own axis.

I haven't tried Sandio's mouse yet, but I thought it looked interesting enough to mention here. If you have one, please comment below to let us know what you think.

Update The folks at Sandio have just informed me that if you use the promo code "sketchup" on their web store, you'll save $20 on their device.

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Gerardo64 said...

If the mouse works like their website, 3D Connection has nothing to worry about....

Anonymous said...

Windows only, naturally.

Robobert said...

Space Navigator from 3D Connexion is great what do you think?

tim said...

Hmm, doesn't look too comfortable to use to me. As it happens I did some of the early research into 3D input devices for CAD when I was an IBM Research Fellow in '83-4. I used the then very expensive Polhemus Navigation 3D Space Tracker which used polarised EM fields to track a 1" cube sensor (I put it inside a foam tennis ball) in a 2ft or so cubic region. Worked pretty well *except* it becomes really difficult to hold anything, even just your hand, steady in mid-air! See 'Evolutionary Art and Computers' by W. Latham for a brief write up about the experiments

Anonymous said...

The SpaceNavigator w/ SketchUp is totally awesome. I can't imagine modeling without it any more. Much of the power of the SpaceNavigator is the ability to use it simultaneously with the mouse; at the same instant, you can send six axes of data with the SN, and two axes plus buttons with the mouse. I don't see how you could do that with one device, let alone one hand.

sooboth said...

Anonymous said...

I don't get it, I have a Spaceball 5000 which I use with 3d modelling, but I don't see how this mouse would work, might be good for games (i don't play)

I would like to see a (5x)3d-button mouse or something to use the whole hand

meoakley said...

i have the SpaceExlporer and it works great with sketchup (having the programmable buttons helps a lot too)

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