Orb App: Augmented Reality Meets 3D Design

I have a little fun tonight with a new app. The app is free, and it is called Orb.

If you’re good at using 3-D design sites like Tinkercad or Morphi or SketchUp, you’re probably going to enjoy this app just for the sheer novelty of it. It lets you create exactly those 3D kinds of designs (using just five basic shapes), but you can overlay them on real life backgrounds as you create, because it all happens in augmented reality.

When you first launch the app, you’re greeted with this screen:

There are samples that you can view in a variety of categories, all of which are better than what I can do!

The design elements in this app are notably few, but still…I admire anyone who is skilled at creating in 3D. This app is a fun way to practice…wherever you may be. Because it’s augmented reality,you can literally get up and walk around your design as you’re building it, which is pretty cool!

In my family room tonight, I made this – ummm – well, I wasn’t sure what to call it when I saved it, so I called it “Odd Clown”. I’d say that’s fitting, wouldn’t you?

The options are really basic, but here’s a breakdown of what is where and what it’s supposed to do:

My overall review of Orb is that this is fun and definitely an exercise in building in 3D. The AR component adds an element of “I can build anywhere” frivolity. The downside for me is that there’s really no way to export your design into any other program, so there’s not much of an overall functionality. I can’t 3D print it, I can’t put it on a Merge Cube, and I can’t get it into PowerPoint as a 3D object, so it just lives the in Orb app and can be added to the public Orb gallery for others to enjoy. Enjoy is the key word here – this app is just something to enjoy.

Parting thoughts:

  • This would definitely be a cool addition to iPads in a makerspace. I think maker kids would really get into this, especially if they could get up and move while they collaborate and share design ideas.
  • It’s fun for elementary through adult, but more seasoned 3D designers will be frustrated by inability to export
  • The learning curve is small, but users definitely improve with lots of practice.
  • I wish it had a record and/or photo button.
  • I hope they add more shapes.
  • Free apps aren’t always worthwhile, but this is worth a shot. It’s fun!

Give it a go and let me know what you think. You can screenshot your Orbs and share them with me on Twitter at @kerszi or on my Facebook page called Integration Innovation.

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