Innovative Touch Screen Application!


Our Cambridge R&D team has just helped a team of Cambridge University students develop an innovative touch-screen design application recently by posing as the headache every developer faces eventually: a demanding and technically savvy client.


The five-student team turned a list of requirements from DS SolidWorks European Research Director Mick Kellman into an application that runs on the Diamond Touch table, which is a touch-screen hardware platform for multiple-user applications. Kellman challenged the students to create a 3D design system that enabled a group to simultaneously construct a complex model from Legoâ blocks. The resulting design had to be compatible with other Lego design and viewing tools that use the .LXF scene file format. The application, nicknamed “Brickbox”, could have only the Diamond Touch interface – no keyboard or mouse – had to accommodate four concurrent users, and had to include features such as view rotation and assembly.

Brickbox was voted as the best solution from a total of 11 applications which were developed as part of the group project work and won a small cash prize donated by IBM. The exercise aims to emphasize innovation, teamwork, schedule management, collaboration, and meeting professional standards. In addition to providing the product brief, Kellman offered his team guidance on how to work in a professional software development environment, which is the project’s main goal.


With their successful foray into touch-screen programming, the Cambridge University team put themselves on the threshold of 3D CAD’s future, according to SolidWorks founder Jon Hirschtick. He has spoken and written recently that widespread use of touch-screen technology will be one of the next big developments in CAD, along with 3D printing, Internet applications, and use of game-like graphics.

The application development work is a component in Cambridge University Computer Laboratory’s program to prepare students for the professional world. Student teams worked on the project over six weeks between January and March 2009, committing to spend between 5 and 10 hours per week on it. Technology professionals volunteer to act as clients who want applications that, for example, enable users to find their way around a large building using a mobile phone, or try on clothing using a “video wall” that superimposes images on their bodies.

“Practical design projects are an ideal way for students to apply theoretical principles of computer software to real world concerns. We are proud of the skill that so many of our students demonstrate in creating exciting new product concepts," said Alan Blackwell reader in interdisciplinary design at Cambridge University.

Have a look at the video:

Matthew West

SolidWorks alumnus. I like plate reverb, Rat pedals, Thai curry, New Weird fiction, my kids, Vespas, Jazzmasters, my wife & Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not necessarily in that order.