With the advent and proliferation of tablets, using a pen to annotate or even sketch is becoming more and more useful, if not necessary. Enter the Space Pen. Now, you can sketch or annotate 3D models on the web. Developed at the University of Washington’s Design Machine Group, this tool provides an ideal interface with another of the group’s projects, Spot, the daylight measuring tool for architects. Is Space Pen really as simple as it sounds? Can you really just draw and edit any 3D model? Yes. But it is not just that you can draw on any surface, it also recognizes certain basic shapes to aid in the drawing process. It also automatically renders a 3D floor plan from one’s model in real time. Another boon is the addition of a “light pen” allows users to add directional light to the drawing. It’s also free.
What’s the advantage of such a tool? As mentioned above, one obvious application is for use with tablets. One can easily use the Space Pen to test different configurations without committing to both the time and effort involved in changing an entire CAD or Revit drawing. In other words, this can be seen as an initial sketching and exploratory tool.
What’s another use? Imagine meeting with a client, especially a residential client, during the initial phase of design, during which many changes can take place. This tool can make exploring different iterations more easily without committing long hours in more formal programs as mentioned above, but those iterations can also be explored by the client, as well. While on the one hand, one might imagine this level of client involvement merely adding to the architect’s difficulties, it can also facilitate communication and more quickly demonstrate the efficacy of design strategies.