Hands-on with Leonar3do: virtual reality meets 3D printing

Credit: Raymond Wong/DVICE

Here's something Star Trek never thought up: creating 3D works of art in a virtual reality and then replicating your finalized creations. Well, we just went hands-on with a system that does just that. And while our artistic skills might have turned out a little lacking, our minds are still blown by what we might accomplish with the Leonar3do virtual reality sculptor.

We stumbled upon Leonar3do at the New York Inside 3D Printing expo, and couldn't have been more impressed. The Leonar3do system consists of a snazzy stylus (dubbed "the bird"), a pair of 3D glasses and a set of line sensors, which mount onto your 3D monitor. The line sensors track not only your glasses but the bird as well, optimizing your 3D experience.

The bird itself is a highly intuitive stylus with a pair of buttons that control your ability to draw and erase your creations, as well as manipulate your viewing angle. Further controls, like brush type and size, are available by way of the keyboard.

The overall effect of the system is one of wonder and absolute fun. But what makes it even cooler than "just another stylus" is its ability to save and then print your artistic creations via a 3D printer. Leonar3do can save its files in 3D printer-optimized file formats, turning the sometimes-clunky interface with a 3D printer into a walk in the virtual park.

Now, the price. When the Leonar3do was revealed at CES in January, the company's software was pegged at $2,000 and the bird controller and sensors for another $500. A Leonar3do rep told us it's now going for $500 for the bird/sensors and $500 for the software. That's not a bad buy if you're a 3D artist looking to make some quick renders or 3D-printed prototypes.

To get a better look at what Leonar3do can do, check out our video below.

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