Computer Aided Drafting Virtual Reality Interface

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Roach, David M.
Computer Engineering
thesis / dissertation description
Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) is pervasive in engineering fields today. It has become indispensable for planning, creating, visualizing, troubleshooting, collaborating, and communicating designs before they exist in physical form. From the beginning, CAD was created to be used by means of a mouse, keyboard, and monitor. Along the way, other, more specialized interface devices were created specifically for CAD that allowed for easier and more intuitive navigation within a 3D space, but they were at best stopgap solutions. Virtual Reality (VR) allows users to navigate and interact with digital 3D objects and environments the same way they would in the real world. For this reason, VR is a natural CAD interface solution. Using VR as an interface for CAD software, creating will be more intuitive and visualizing will be second nature. For this project, a prototype VR CAD program was created using Unreal Engine for use with the HTC Vive to compare against traditional WIMP (windows, icons, menus, pointer) interface CAD programs for the time it takes to learn each program, create similar models, and impressions of using each program, specifically the intuitiveness of the user interface and model manipulation. FreeCAD, SolidWorks, and Blender were the three traditional interface modeling programs chosen to compare against VR because of their wide-spread use for modeling in 3D printing, industry, and gaming, respectively. During the course of the project, two VR modeling programs were released, Google Blocks and MakeVR Pro; because they were of a similar type as the prototype software created in Unreal Engine, they were included for comparison as part of this project. The comparison showed that the VR CAD programs were faster to learn and create models and more intuitive to use than the traditional interface CAD programs.