What Is A 3D Mouse?

Imagine using a traditional horizontal mouse with your dominant hand. So far, so good. But what if there was another mouse in your other hand, letting you make use of functions that make your work a breeze? That’s where 3D mouse comes in. It is by no means the answer to dethroning the traditional mouse but a companion piece. It lets you take advantage of your computer display to pan, zoom and rotate 3D models on-screen.

Who Are 3D Mice Made For?

As you might have guessed by now, this 3D mouse is aimed at people who work with 3D assets on their workstation. Character designers, 3D model makers, CAD drafters, animators, visual artists, all of them can greatly benefit from a 3D mouse.

This sure does save them the trouble to press a bunch of keys to pan, scan, zoom and select 3D objects in the course of their work. It changes your work in a fundamental way. And there’s no looking back once you experience it and feel the change. But first, let us look at how 3D mice are benefiting today’s graphic artists in their work:

21% Productivity Boost

According to many survey and case studies, 3D artists have one major issue when it comes to doing their work – the endless zooming and changing of perspectives to sculpt the perfect 3D model. So much time is lost trying to get to a bunch of shortcut keys that can let artists get to the perspective that they want that it gets mildly irritating to lose all that productive time.

It’s like finding a needle in a haystack. Navigating, creating and editing a 3D model should be seamless, almost as easy as scrolling on a mouse.

A 3D mouse contains all the common controls that are required to work in the 3D perspective:
• Tilt • Zoom • Spin • Roll • Pan left/right • Pan up/down

All these functions are built in a 3D mouse. They are intuitive to the touch.

Comfort

Did you know that using a 3D mouse means a decrease of 50% in mouse clicks and in mouse movement when creating a model? That’s how much time-saving and comfort-focused they are. Time is money in 3D graphics industry since rendering high quality models takes a long while as it is. So, why not make those models a lot quicker with the help of a 3D mouse?

Performance Booster

The utility of a 3D mouse isn’t limited to 3D modeling only. You can use it even when you are making a sketch and are looking for fine-tuned control over your input. Navigate through your canvas space effortlessly. Explore your models in detail and rectify errors which would otherwise mean the difference between starting from scratch or taken care of in the initial design period.

Most Popular 3D Mice

Here are some of the most amazing 3D mice in the market today:

3D Connexion Spacemouse Pro Wireless

Description

3d-mouseThe 3D connexion SpaceMouse Pro Wireless is a professional grade 3D mouse designed for use in the best 3D design houses of the world. Plus, it’s wireless, with no tangled wires to bother you.

Pros

It delivers professional performance: accuracy, control, personalization and hotkeys. There are so many features packed in the SpaceMouse Pro Wireless. It is built for ergonomics, which means you won’t strain your hand by using it over long periods of time. It comes with a ridiculously long 2-month battery life, which means you won’t be changing batteries after every other week.

Cons

There have been some reported issues regarding the wireless connectivity of the SpaceMouse Pro. However, these are few and in between and nothing a proper installation of Bluetooth drivers can’t solve.

3D Connexion Spacemouse Wireless

Description

3d-mouseThe spacemouse wireless series from 3D Connexion was made for the normal consumer who wishes to see what the fuss about 3D mice is all about. This is the entry-level product from 3D Connexion which doesn’t skimp on the essential features even with its price tag and niche-ness.

Pros

This mouse is truly wireless. In fact, it was the first wireless 3D mouse to debut in the market. There are no cords to worry about with this product as you can wirelessly zoom and explore your 3D models without pressing a bunch of keys on the keyboard to accomplish this.

This 3D mouse is rechargeable. And the included USB cable reflects that. Also, if you want to save up on the wireless battery level, you can continue to use the 3D Mouse wired with the USB cable as well. This is possible with the included drivers CD with the Spacemouse Wireless.

The battery lasts for as long as a month, which is good enough for most 3D design enthusiasts and professionals.

As for wireless connectivity, the device interacts with a microUSB receiver that’s included with the product and plugged into the PC. It’s a sleek, stylish, and modern looking product. But don’t let that fool you when it comes to its purely functional design. 3D connexion has paid attention to its ergonomics as well and with the SpaceMouse, it clearly shows.

A rounded square shape with curved sides only serves to keep strain and RSI related symptoms at bay, prioritizing functionality without sacrificing comfort in the process.
And what’s more, it reacts to pressure, letting you zoom and edit your way to complex 3D models over the X, Y and Z axes.

Cons

The SpaceMouse Wireless is bulk at almost a pound, thanks to its base aluminum design and rubber skids. This doesn’t make it portable but that’s a tradeoff that one can make, especially considering the product’s usage and application purposes. Some users have reported that the product works fine with just one viewpoint open in their workstations.

The performance seems mixed when opening multiple viewpoints for 3D models, nothing a future device driver update from 3D connexion can’t fix. It’s a nuisance though.

Final words

3D Mouse can make a world of a difference to the way you work and observe your 3D models. Instead of fidgeting with the controls with your mouse and keyboard both, the 3D mouse includes one-touch and instant controls to common 3D modeling functionalities. This can significantly make designers focus on their work and making their models better. If you are working in the 3D graphics industry, you owe it to yourself to buy one. Try them out today to get a feel for the thing.

The Foot Mouse and 3D Modeling

Since its inception in the 80’s, the field of computer aided design has experienced numerous innovations in terms of both the software applications currently been used for design as well as the hardware tools available for drafting. Today, our focus will be placed on a particular innovation set to transform how we interact with a CAD workspace, and simplify the design process. This hardware tool is known as the foot mouse.

The Foot Mouse

foot-mouseAs the name suggests, a foot mouse is a directional device or a type of computer mouse that can be used to move a cursor and other mouse buttons with your feet.

In lay man terms, a foot mouse can be compared to the foot sewing machine tailors make use of when sewing. And as in fashion, the foot mouse reduces the over-reliance on the fingers and the upper body problems—back ache, neck ache—that comes with spending hours on a design project.

How it Functions

Although there are approximately 10 types of foot mouse, the average foot mouse is made up of the following components:

  • Either a flat foot surface that allows directional movements or
  • A foot mouse designed as a tilting pedal which can also be turned in diverse directions

These components ensures that the user can perform clicking tasks by stepping on the pedal or foot surface as well as carry out 3 dimensional movements by rotating the foot mouse from side to side. These components and features make it possible to use the rather clumsy eye-to-foot-combination humans experience to interact with a 3D CAD workspace.

Interacting with a 3D Interface Using the Foot Mouse

Now, it is important to note that the foot mouse is still in its developmental stage and you may not even be able to purchase one due to the fact that the ones in circulation are basically prototypes for beta testing. That been said, the foot mouse’s operational patterns and features still lags behind those of your regular desktop or 3D mouse. Still, the device can be used to interact with a 3D interface in the following ways:

  1. The foot pedal: the foot pedal or surface click mirrors the left click functions of your average desktop mouse for it allows the user select models, diagrams and options on a workspace.
  2. The directional movements—which are quite limited—provides the directional navigation needed to execute functions such as move, zoom and pan.
  3. The foot pedal/surface and the directional features can also be used in combination to view a 3D model as well as choose certain spots on the 3D interface.

These features were designed to closely mirror that of your desktop mouse in order to simplify the already difficult task of working with your foot when designing. The foot mouse is designed to capture a certain segment of the CAD community which includes; designers with physical disabilities, blind individuals and anyone looking to ease the muscle strain that comes with working on a 3D interface for extensive periods of time.