New toy: Space Navigator

by Volker Weber

space navigator

At CeBIT 2007 I saw a new toy that I just had to have. You can see a demo here.

The 3Dconnexion Space Navigator lets you move 3D models in a very natural way. You just grab the knob with your "other" hand - you still use a mouse with your right (or left) hand. Then you twist the knob to turn your model, push or pull it down and up. You can also push the knob both left and right and back and forth, and finally you can also tilt it. Watch this little video to see me looking at a model of the Eiffel tower in Paris:

This type of controller isn't really new. What's new is that the Space Navigator is affordable. It comes with drivers for Windows but you can also download drivers for Linux and Mac. On Windows there is a long list of supported applications. On the Mac it is rather short: Formz, Google Sketchup, and Maya. Google Earth currently does not seem to detect the driver on the Mac. But I have not doubt that it will be coming soon.

This is also the first hardware I come accross which has two different price points depending on use:

2 prices

As their website states, the two products are identical. The "Personal Edition" is for private use only though. I wonder how they would like to enforce that limitation.


Danke für den Tip. Ist gekauft ;-)

Andreas Linde, 2007-03-25

Nice controller for Second Life.

Phil v. Sassen, 2007-03-25

Indeed, the concept is not new - I seem to remember seeing a similar kind of device on a Silicon Graphics system something like twelve years ago.

But as you also say, the price is the really interesting bit - that little SGI setup probably cost about the same as the freehold for my apartment...

Nick Daisley, 2007-03-26

Phil, exactly that was my first thought as well. But it seems as if Second Life is not among the supported apps. Maybe their working on it. With the current hype about Second Life this might be a nice ride to take up PR for this device.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2007-03-26

The SGI one was called spacemouse and is available in huge quantities on ebay ;) too bad it connects via serial port which is sparse nowadays

Sascha Reissner, 2007-03-26

Is it the driver software that is licensed for personal vs. standard use? Otherwise is it legal to put a restrictive covenant on the use of hardware that someone has purchased? Are they trying to licence the use of the hardware? Sounds dodgy to me.

Kerr Rainey, 2007-03-26

hmm, found

Samuel Adam, 2007-03-26

I don't think the spacenavigator PE is limited to personal use - the difrence between them is the level of support. For the Personal Edition you can only get support through the forums. This is from the 3dconnexion website

- "SpaceNavigator PE users get online support only through the 3Dconnexion forum. SpaceNavigator SE is priced at $99 (US$99) and comes with an unlimited use license appropriate for commercial purposes, as well as full phone, email and online support."

It also says PE version is licensed for educational and personal use - but can you restrict people from using hardware for commercial use? I'm not sure they can.

Johan Bichel Lindegaard, 2007-08-01

Old archive pages

I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


Paypal vowe