The HandsOn project of the Department of Media Technology at the Helsinki University of Technology is researching optical tracking and 3D user interfaces for modeling and animation. They make heavy use of Blender to test new concepts in user interaction in virtual 3D environments, and have published videos of their work so far.
From their website:
The goal is to develop new intuitive and natural bimanual interfaces for creative tasks. Accessibility of the results is also considered, we are aiming at developing solutions that can easily be taken into a use outside the laboratory and run on commodity hardware.
Bimanual 3D User Interfaces for Modeling
Traditionally 3D modeling has been done using two dimensional user interface build on keyboard, mouse and monitor setup. In HandsOn project we are designing and implementing novel 3D interfaces that allow designers to shape virtual objects in fully three dimensional work space.
Animation in 3D Virtual Environments
The goal of the HandsOn animation research is to study the area between full-body motion tracking and desktop interface. The initial idea has been that the animation could be done with different hand gestures in 3D virtual environment.
About the project
In HandsOn project the research is carried out by several universities. In addition to Helsinki University of Technology, also Tampere University of Technology and The University of Art and Design Helsinki are participating in the reseach work, and project is mainly funded by Tekes, which is a Finnish research funding institute. Helsinki University of Technology has a leading role in administrating and planning the research and the work concerning Blender is mainly done there.