Table of contents:
- Control ball could steer robotic arm in all directions
- Small robot remote controlled in space
- The first Spacemouse
- Key data: The Spacemouse Classic
- Optical sensor detects inputs of 4 µm
- Smart engineering day
- This is how a 3D mouse works
- What does a 3D mouse bring?
- Ergonomic advantages of a 3D mouse
Video: The Development Of The 3D Mouse
2023 Author: Hannah Pearcy | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-06-05 00:21
Today, mainly found in design offices, the 3D mouse originally comes from space travel. The story begins at the end of the 1970s at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) when attempts were made to control a robot arm in Cartesian space at the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics.
Control ball could steer robotic arm in all directions
A six-axis force-torque sensor with three force and three torque components integrated in a control ball proved to be the optimal solution for this in 1981. The control ball registered the linear and rotational displacements as they are generated by the forces and moments of a human hand, which were then mathematically converted into translatory and rotary movements. The first force-torque sensor used was based on strain gauge technology, which was integrated into the plastic control ball.
Small robot remote controlled in space
The first prototypes, which were created between 1982 and 1985, showed that the control ball is not only ideal as a control device for robots, but also for the first 3D graphics system that came onto the market at the time. In 1985, DLR presented the first low-cost optical measuring system that used six one-dimensional position detectors.
In 1993, on board the Columbia space shuttle, a small robot named Rotex flew into space for the first time in space history. It was remotely controlled from Earth via the "DLR control ball" - the forerunner of the Spacemouse.
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The first Spacemouse
After intensive one year of work, the result was the first Spacemouse, also known as "Magellan" in the USA.
The wear-resistant and drift-free optoelectronic 6-component measuring system has been optimized in such a way that the entire electronics is housed on only one side of a tiny board in the controller cap. The Spacemouse also only required a few milliamps of power, which was supplied via the serial interface of any PC or a standard mouse interface. The electronic circuit has been simplified by a factor of five compared to the control balls mentioned above.
This sophisticated mechanical optimization ultimately led to three simple injection molded parts, namely the basic housing, a cap handle with the measuring system inside and the small nine-key keyboard system
Key data: The Spacemouse Classic
Optical sensor detects inputs of 4 µm
The core technology of 3D mice, the adaptive micro-precision sensor technology, has been further developed and reduced by 3D-Connexion over the years.
The core of today's 3D mice is still the controller cap with the optical sensor with 6 degrees of freedom (6DoF), which can recognize inputs of 4 µm - this corresponds to 0.04 percent of a human hair.
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This is how a 3D mouse works
The controller cap controls three translational degrees of freedom (X, Y and Z) and three rotary degrees of freedom (A, B and C). By gently pushing, pulling, rotating or tilting the controller cap, users can simultaneously move, enlarge or reduce and rotate camera views or a 3D model. At the same time, selection, design and editing tasks can be carried out with the standard mouse.
Standard functions for supported applications are stored on each key. This assignment can be configured individually via the driver. The input is made either via quick macro (entering a shortcut), macro (entering several shortcuts in succession) or by selecting commands using the predefined command tree.
There are also 3D mice that also visualize the stored commands on a color LCD display.
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What does a 3D mouse bring?
Users can design with 3D mice more efficiently because they work with two hands at the same time. The necessary steps for rotating and editing a model can be carried out with a 3D mouse at the same time, and not only in succession as with a conventional mouse keyboard setup.
For example, the user can select a function with the normal mouse and in the meantime carry out the rotary movement with the 3D mouse. These steps run simultaneously in one smooth movement and no longer have to be carried out by successive mouse clicks. The shortcuts also help you work faster after you get used to it.
The mice can be used for all common CAD applications. Since these vary, the devices can also be configured individually for each program.
Ergonomic advantages of a 3D mouse
In a study report on the ergonomic assessment of the 3D mouse, the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO found ergonomic advantages of the 3D mouse.
By using both hands simultaneously when working with a 3D mouse, finger movements are reduced by 28.6 percent per hour. The user also places his hands on the desk in parallel, which results in an upright and therefore healthier posture. For designers who work eight hours or more on the screen five days a week, this is a significant relief for the wrists, shoulders and neck.