By now most of you know that I live, eat, breath and sleep 3D printing, and its a hobby that I have enjoyed for the better part of a decade now. A few months ago during an interview with Sixense CEO, Amir Rubin, I was let in on a little project they were working on called MakeVR. Then just a few weeks ago at CES 2014 I had the chance to take a private demo of this software, and it turned my idea of 3D modeling for 3D printing upside down. Today Sixense launched the crowdfunding campaign for MakeVR on Kickstarter.
If Sixense's STEM system revolutionized the way we play games in Virtual Reality, then MakeVR will forever change the way we model 3D objects using VR. MakeVR is being billed as the worlds first immersive 3D modeling application that makes content creation for 3D printing natural, intuitive, and most importantly, fun! Over my years in the hobby, I have used or tried to use just about every 3D modeling program out there, and what I found is that many programs require a degree from a university just to be able to create anything more complex than a cube or sphere. With MakeVR things are so simple and natural that a kid can use the program to create very complex objects with little instruction.
With traditional 3D modeling programs, users have to deal with a mouse and keyboard interface. While this is OK for typical computing and gaming, when it comes to manipulating designs in 3 dimensional space a mouse and keyboard become a hindrance on fluid and dynamic creation. When talking to people about MakeVR I like to compare it to the way Tony Stark manipulates his designs and models in the Iron Man movies. You really do get to just grab the model out of thin air, and mold it into anything you imagination can come up with. In the image below, you will see a sort of cartoonish fire hydrant. In a normal modeling program this would take hours to build, but I watched the model for that hydrant built-in literally less than 20 minutes.
While that was impressive in its own right, the kicker is how easy it is to export that model to a .STL file for importation to any 3D printer on the market. If users do not own a 3D printer themselves, sending the model directly to Shapeways is just as easy and is done completely within the MakeVR software. This means that anyone can model their object in what has to be the easiest method ever created, and then send it to their printer or to a printing facility with no hassle or trouble.
While I got to demo MakeVR with Sixense's STEM system, users who already own a Razr Hydra controller will need no additional hardware to use the modeling software. This can be seen in the video above where a modeler is using a sphere to cut recesses into a cube within MakeVR. The program support Oculus Rift, as well as 3D monitors, and other virtual reality head mounted displays. When using an Oculus Rift, the feeling that you are Tony Stark really kicks in and you begin to feel like you are actually part of the 3D world. It's hard to describe, but a feeling of power washes over you and you feel like the sky is the limit on what you can create.
MakeVR also supports collaborative designing as well with its Collaborate3D feature. In Collaborate3D each user must have a copy of MakeVR with Collaborate3D as well as either a 2-controller STEM system or a Razr Hydra controller. Up to four users can simultaneously work in the same modeling space and even on the same model, something that has never been done on any 3D modeling program to my knowledge.
Sixense is hoping to raise $250,000 to bring MakeVR to the market, and pledges of $169 or more kick off the software package rewards. Those who pledge $169 (early bird limit of 500, after that the price goes up to $199) will receive MakeVR Basic edition and a T-shirt. This is a good level for someone who already has a Hydra controller. MakeVR with Collaborate3D starts at an early bird special of $259 and jumps to $299 when the first 500 pledges are made. Backers who want the STEM system and MakeVR basic will need to pony up $399 early on with only 500 pledges at that level being available before the price increases to $479. MakeVR with Collaborate 3D and a STEM system can be picked up for $499 with an increase in price to $579 when the early bird special runs out. Finally, for those who want early beta access, a pledge of $1000 or more will be needed to obtain everything in the $579 package before everyone else.
Take it from me, someone who has lived 3D printing for the last 8 years, MakeVR is the game changer that the industry has been waiting on. Its ability to easily allow users to create very complex 3D objects with little to no prior 3D modeling experience is something other companies have spent millions on and failed every time. MakeVR succeeds where all others have failed, and that is impressive beyond explanation. I will be picking up a copy for myself and hope that all of you will as well!
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