Futures in the Shop – Real and Imagined
The previous discussion on the shop drawing package sparked my thinking about what we might expect in the future. Today, I think we can agree that “paper” is most often what we find useful in the shop. Even with the explosion of tablets, small lightweight laptops, and smartphones, there are limitations in their effectiveness in the work shop. Here are some of the limitations that I’m experiencing:
1. I want the drawing package right next to me on the workbench, especially when marking out or cutting a joint. I don’t want to leave the workbench in order to access critical dimensions and details. I have a small European style workbench, and having the tablet or laptop right there next to my tools and wood parts, chopping or sawing, is a threat to the electronics. There is not much real estate on that bench surface, covered with tools and furniture components. And things get knocked-off occasionally. That’s OK for a bundle of paper, but not so, for the electronics.
2. Digital technology, while having good battery life, eventually requires connection by wire to a power source. I find a wire streaming off the bench to be another problem.
3. Depending on settings, the digital devices are not displayed continuously, rather go to sleep, requiring another log in or password to see the missing dimension. This log-in is a distraction and a frustration.
4. My hands are dirty on the bench, sometimes with glue, oil, sap, and other constituents. These are not so good for a keyboard or the touch screen.
5. I want to be able to easily move the drawing package around to a number of machines and work spaces. This is more difficult with electronics, especially if they are plugged-in.
6. While I have a vacuum system in the shop, it is still very dusty. Its not so good to have my iPads or laptops in that environment for long periods.
So for me, I’m currently stuck with paper in my shop, while having an accessible laptop or desktop a few yards away in a separate room in the house. Often, I need another dimension or SketchUp view, so within a few minutes, I’m back in the shop with a new or revised sheet of paper.
Now thinking about the future, what changes can we expect or imagine?
I’m somewhat intrigued with possible use of Google Glasses (or equivalent) in the shop. This could possibly remove most of the limitations listed above. Glasses could possibly offer immediate access to the drawing package anywhere within the shop. With verbal commands, this could achieve quick movement within multiple sheets and views. And perhaps Glasses could provide instant views of the SketchUp 3D model, while orbiting, panning, and zooming into relevant parts. This would probably require a good wireless connection back to the desktop running SketchUp.
Even more exciting would be the ability to display a hologram of the furniture model right there at the workbench. Again, having the ability to view from any angle and or detail. Seeing and understanding the complexity of detail carvings is most difficult for me. I’m hoping that SketchUp and these future digital technologies will make it easier to visualize and effect difficult sculpturing processes.