Using Cloud9 to create work for InsideOut

I have this piece of work in the Inside Out exhibition ( which is a compelling international touring exhibition which opened in Australia last June and features forty-six miniature sculptures produced in resin using 3D printing technologies. The Exhibition illustrates how developments in virtual computer visualisation and integrated digital technologies are giving contemporary makers new insight and opportunities to create objects and forms which were previously impossible to produce or difficult to envisage.

I used Cloud9 (version 1) to initially explore ideas and had 3 different streams/themes and not particularly struck by one enough to take it further. But on my bike going home something went ‘click’ – which was to bring two of these together as the basis on which to form my mini sculpture.

I have since recycled this idea/piece for a bookend competition and now re-working it for a piece of jewellery. This intensive time I have had using Cloud9 has highlighted a couple of very interesting advantages our combined soft/hardware has, re. haptics and 3 degrees of movement (as against 6 degrees of movement – x,y,z and rotation in x,y,z). The default material ‘feel’ is rubberyness so that not only do you have touch to let you know where you are in the 3D space, the fact that the form you touch flexes with contact with the cursor gives a strong visual cue to see your exact position- and 2 cues are always better than 1.

The other insight is more interesting for me and I hope generally! From our Tacitus Research Project it seemed that 6 degrees of Freedom (6DoF = x,y,z and rotation in x,y,z) is superior to 3DoF and for some interactions this is true. With having only 3DoF, using the more affordable Falcon haptic device, we focused on programming and adding shortcut keys to provide greater usability. What I experienced during designing and creating my sculpture is that the combination of dominant/non-dominant hand actions for 3 degrees of movement and 3 degrees of rotation was sufficiently intuitive for working fluidly AND brought just the right measure of control to the process. So for working intensively there is an excellent degree of immersion experienced as well as effective control for reflective and purposeful actions. So I am feeling very elated by the progress we have made with version2 of Cloud9. I hope you can try it sometime!

(The InsideOut exhibition is the result of collaboration between the Art Technology Coalition, the University of Technology Sydney and RMIT University in Australia along with De Montfort University, Manchester Metropolitan University and Dartington College of Arts at University College Falmouth in the United Kingdom.  The exhibition opens in the UK in Sept and opened in Australia on June 4th.)

something just ‘clicks’

When people try Anarkik3D’s Cloud9 haptic software something just ‘clicks’. It is this gut reaction that is interesting as it validates the 4 years of research work (Tacitus Research Project) that formed our approach to development.  and is embedded with the values from designing and making.

 The main research site was Edinburgh College of Art and we had designer makers test the haptic software demonstrators in iterative user centred trials with their feedback informing all stages of development. Cloud9 is the result; haptic software which, combined now pragmatically, with affordable hardware, seems to be a distillation of designer maker ways of thinking.

I recommend this white paper by FemmeDen as so much in it articulates what we are about! Titled ‘Sex on the Brain’ it is by 4 women designers at SMART Design Company (New York/Barcelona) and is a call for a more ‘universal’ approach to designing and solidly references very interesting research findings.

The Research team, and now the development team at Anarkik3D, is more or less balanced between the arts and science. There is a bias towards the arts, specifically designer makers and applied artists, and a bit towards women as a female designer maker (me) led the research project and is the companys’s CEO. Any overt influence is adjusted by a well balanced technology side!

The FemmeDen whitepaper explains why we have a more ‘unconventional’ approach to developing 3D modelling on computer when compared to that of conventional CAD and other 3D modelling packages which are very prescriptive and precision based. Yes it is more female biased but I prefer the terms non gender biased and ‘universal design’ as the Cloud9 haptic package appeals to designer makers of both genders. 

We are also serious about providing a useful professional level ‘tool’, one that enables designer makers of both genders to access all the benefits and advantages of digital 3D modelling and access to 3D printing. To slot in well to their pipeline of designing and making, it is crucial that a level of competence can be achieved swiftly, and retained, without jeopardising the all important time in the workshop to make, as well as the time to explore and experiment with real materials and processes as these are fundamental for understanding the constraints and affordances for making successfully.  It is through this hands-on process that designer makers build an important source of knowledge, albeit tacit, that is needed for good concept generation and designing. And by continuing to ask designer makers to feed back their thoughts to us to improve Cloud9 for how they want to work Anarkik3D can develop a valuable universal tool that suits a wider range of people.

This is a very good place then to thank all the designers, designer makers and artists who since 2000 have contributed to the development of Cloud9. Please stay on board as we will to develop it.

 See MA Student Farah Bandookwala at

Anarkikangels as crowd sourcing

I had an interesting email from RHINO announcing that they are beginning ‘public development’ of their CAD software, i.e. using the crowd for iterative development via their feedback. This is mostly what AnarkikAngels is about and our website covers the main reasons for adopting a crowd sourcing model for developing Cloud9 as a haptic sketch/modelling application, plus funding the development. We spent the best part of 18 months investigating how best to do this, listening to both detractors, advocates and enthusiasts.

So it is very gratifying to read that Rhino are to use this type of model to develop their next version of their great CAD software from prototype to Beta to release. 


Also, on the 4iP website ‘38minutes’, where I have joined 2 groups, one of these groups, ‘Crowdsourcing for Crowdsourcing’, started a discussion last November. One stream is about the value of developing a tool for crowdsourcing. I am kind of sceptical about this as there are so many different reasons for crowdsourcing and therefore various ways of doing this – can one tool cover all the methods needed for different types of crowdsourcing without getting overly complicated (I am a great advocate of ‘slow’ everything …. but what has slow got to do with complexity, hey!)?


I have been mulling over this idea of a tool as we are going to have to develop tools for our website to enable us to efficiently and fairly manage the feedback. This is not just about information to inform development but also needs to be the communication channel for a) digging deeper into the why’s and where fore’s within the feedback received and b) reasons behind how we select to develop one feature over another. Maybe the forum format is the best method, with blogs to cover other issues that are pertinent.


It will be interesting to see how this pans out as I also think that there are so many tools already out there it is just a matter of how these are pulled together under one ‘roof’ as it were, hoping there is enough compatibility between them to avoid the domino effect where one crashes, they all crash!

All comments gratefully received!   See

Makers Faire, Shapeways and Cloud9

large beadsOn Sunday 15th March I took our haptic gear and laptop to the 1st UK Makers Faire that was held in Newcastle as part of the Science Festival there. The main reason for going was to meet up with Joris and Peter Paul of Shapeways to give them a demo of Cloud9 as I am particularly keen for them to understand how easy and intuitive it is to learn and use, and how robust our models are for 3D printing/rapid prototyping.

Shapeways were exhibiting their range of 3D printed models to illustrate both their company’s expertise and the accessibility of the services they offer. In February we added exporting a model in the STL file format to Cloud9 so the model can be processed and 3D printed. We have tested this by getting the model printed by a couple of different places, one being Shapeways. As our haptic software is so easy to learn and use, a much wider range of people are able design and create 3D models and then 3D printing them using services such as Shapeways. So we should both be promoting each other! Here is the link to them and to us.

Anarkikangels, Cloud9 and all that…

My first blog. Will writing and putting words down in phrases, sentences etc, order my thinking ? Will putting down words capture and record those  ideas swirling around in my mind? Will this be useful not just for me and for my colleagues but also for those who want to know more about the other levels we deal with in the haptic software development of Cloud9? Will it be in a form that others can understand and interact with and to which I can refer to and edit?

As I do not find writing at all easy starting a blog is a bit crazy but we all need feedback and I hope what I get back is helpful and constructive . It will certainly contain pictures to help cut down on the amount I have to write! So here goes….