University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

The Changing Shape of Software

ShapeTape software could help design and refine 3-D models

Computer scientists at U of T have created software with a twist – literally. By manipulating a flexible physical tool called ShapeTape in tandem with a foot pedal, users can twist, bend, push and pull virtual curves in two or three dimensions – a critical component of geometric modelling software. ShapeTape, which looks like a rubber ribbon, has a steel core and is embedded with fibre-optic sensors. Held in both hands, the tape can change the position, shape and size of a curve on the computer screen.

“Our work moves away from the ‘one-size-fits-all’ keyboard-and-mouse paradigm,” says research team leader and computer science professor Ravin Balakrishnan. Balakrishnan says the ShapeTape software could be used to help design and refine technical 3-D models of virtually any product, from toasters to cars.

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