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Design 3D lava lamps with gestures on Handy-Potter

You can design anything from vases to pagodas with this easy Kinect gestural app. All it takes is a bit of waving in the air and a few seconds.

Purdue's Handy-Potter works with Kinect to create 3D shapes. Purdue University

Gestural interfaces like the Leap promise a world in which we'll all be driving cars and flying planes by waving our hands in the air, "Minority Report"-style.

Pudue University is joining the fun with the Handy-Potter, a design tool that lets you fashion 3D virtual objects with your bare hands.

Recently presented at the ASME 2012 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference in Chicago, the research won the All-Conference Best Paper award.

The Handy-Potter is a departure from traditional computer-aided design. It works with the Microsoft Kinect to track the user's body and hand gestures, modifying 3D shapes according to motions such as waving or pulling.

"We conclusively demonstrate the creation of a wide variety of product concepts and show an average modeling time of a only few seconds while retaining the intuitiveness of communicating the design intent," Purdue mechanical engineering professor Karthik Ramani and collaborators write in the paper.

The university said Handy-Potter could be used to make games, architecture, and art, as well as engineering design. Check out the vid below for examples of how gestures are used to outline the designs.

"You create the shape while you are completely focused on the idea rather than bothering yourself about the right usage of the tool," Purdue quoted Ramani as saying.

"The tool learns you and does not become a barrier in creation. You don't learn the tool."