Haptic Sculpting (1998)

This research introduces examples of haptic sculpting mediated by a physical model or constraint. Most prior work in haptic drawing and sculpting focused on interacting with a static model and properly simulating contact forces. Our work introduced dynamic models for the creative process. These were based on physical models, but present physically impossible scenarios that allow new forms of expression. By focusing on models not realizable in the real world we show an expansion of the creative process through haptic feedback.

As example applications we present two prototypes. Dynasculpt allows 3D sculpting by attaching a sprung virtual mass to the Phantom position and creating a ribbon or tube along the path taken by the mass through space. Griddraw is used for constrained 3D drawing – a uniform 3D grid of detents is haptically superimposed over 3D space, allowing the easy production of straight lines and right angles. Both focus on dynamics as intrinsic to the creative process.

Our initial reflections and observations indicate that this paradigm is a fruitful one for haptically enhanced creation of static models. The standard problem of users comparing their experience to the superior real-world experience is circumvented in this work by presenting novel experiences impossible to feel or construct in the physical world. By presenting ourselves and naïve users with simple target tasks, we have informally analyzed the controllability of each tool. Our two prototypes seem to lie on extremes in a continuum of expressivity/controllability – Dynasculpt can become difficult to control – often at the edge of chaos, while Griddraw can be overly constraining. Active force feedback in both cases can serve to stabilize unstable or chaotic models.


Snibbe, S., Anderson, S. and Verplank, B.,Springs and Constraints for Haptic Sculpting. Proceedings of the Third PHANToM Users Group Workshop, AI Lab Technical Report No.1643, MIT, December 1998.