What will we do with our hands?
[Well, we've had quite a few replies to Naseem's question "what will we do with our hands?" (March 99), and while most of them aren't fit for reproduction here, we've decided to include two of the most interesting ones below. --Ed.]
Critical Research Labs in Ontouk, Saskatchewan are just finishing what they call InterStoke, an online smoking simulator. Seeking to reproduce the smokey atmosphere of the coffee bars they love (something to do with the French Canadian influence, we're told) they have come up with an electronic scent generator which can create a wide variety of odors, from coffee and cigarette smoke to cut grass and newsprint, which are released simultaneously by the user's own unit and by similar boxes on the desks of whoever the user is currently chatting with. A data glove is the intended control mechanism, with a number of simple mimes triggering the smells - a stirring action will prompt a quick whiff of coffee, while rubbing your fingers together starts a rich aroma of rolled tobacco wafting across the workstations of your online companions. Combined with some suitably moody ambient sounds and backgrounds, soon we could all be enjoying cafe culture North Canadian style.
Highly-paid 3D modellers beware! Metamodel Inc. have just released a brand new modelling system that they believe will steal a lot of the thunder from SoftImage and Co. Virtual Clay (tm) brings together advanced 3D modelling tehniques and motion capture technology into a package that makes 3D design fast, intuitive and childishly easy to learn - in other words the exact opposite of what it is now. Designers now don a set of motion-capture 'globes' and manipulate models in real-time directly with their hands, as though they were working with physical clay - except that this clay doesn't break, and can be hard or soft, metallic or transparent at the flick of a finger. Metamodel anticipate massive sales to hobbyists and home users as well as industry professionals and are giving the whole setup a pricetag comparable with the latest generation of consoles. "We believe that once word gets out about this, the demand will be enormous" says MD Michael Chan. "The main reason motion capture has been so expensive to date is because so few units are made," he explains, "and we're expecting to make hundreds of thousands, if not millions of these gadgets by the end of the century. We've got a deal together with a major global distributor and advance orders for over 200,000 units, so at the moment we're pretty confident that it's going to be huge". Get your VC this autumn at high street retailers and you'll be waving your arms happily well into next year.
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