3

I've been doing some research into 3D mice. Pretty much the only game in town is the space mouse from 3Dconnexion.

In doing this I discovered that its original designer John Hilton left after the acquisition and went on to form a company called Spatial Freedom which produced a rival controller called "Astroid". See https://www.digitalengineering247.com/article/whats-not-to-like-about-astroid

Pretty much all evidence of this company and product seems to have been eliminated from the internet. Does anyone know what happened?

I can think of three possibilities:

  1. the company was bought out
  2. 3Dconnexion sued over the similarity and they were forced to fold
  3. The company folded due to being unable to carve out a niche of its own

Evidence

  • spatialfreedom.com site is parked

    Implication: the company folded

  • no videos from Spatial Freedom or about Astroid on YouTube

    Guess: they were pulled by YouTube at the request of 3Dconnexion’s lawyers

I've recently discovered an attempt to create an open hardware version https://github.com/mattogodoy/mighty-mouse which I like the look of. If the answer to this question is 2 that project would be under threat.

However according to https://spacemice.org/pdf/Astroid_Whitepaper.pdf, the Astroid was based on a new design for which a new patent was at least sought.

A search shows 3Dconnexion own some patents which cover their products e.g https://patents.justia.com/assignee/3dconnexion-gmbh. They seem dubiously broad to my "open source" mindset but money and lawyers...

7
  • I also asked what the legal situaiton regarding patents for instructions to produce a clone of an item is here patents.stackexchange.com/q/23130/26017 May 13 at 11:17
  • 2
    I’m voting to close this question because it's not about electrical engineering.
    – brhans
    May 13 at 12:22
  • 1
    Hello Bruce. While interesting, speculation/discussion is a poor fit for this Electronics Design Q&A site. I do hope we learn what happened to them however.
    – rdtsc
    May 13 at 12:22
  • It wasn't obvious where else to post such a question given the choices. Its hardware related not software and not a request for a recommendation. I self-classified it has "history of electronics" and so posted here. May 13 at 12:36
  • 2
    There isn't necessarily a home for every possible question somewhere on Stack Exchange. Whether or not this particular question is less off-topic here than some other SE site may be debatable, but 'less off-topic' is not the same as 'on-topic'.
    – brhans
    May 13 at 12:48
5

Here's a contemporary (ca. 2013) White Paper produced by the company.

There was one US patent granted, which (US7706916B2) has "Status Expired - Fee Related" and another which (US20080252661A1) was abandoned.

The inventor has other patents in his name, some unrelated to 3D mice and some assigned to Spaceball Technologies Inc.

By far and away the easiest way to find out the history would be to contact the erstwhile principal of Spatial Freedom and ask. His association with the corporation seems to have ended in 2014 one way or another. His Linkedin profile is here:

enter image description here

2

No it has not folded, been sued or bought out and it's still an active company, see https://abr.business.gov.au/ABN/View/32100627370. Though I don't think it's making Astroid 6000 anymore.

There are no videos online because Spatial Freedom was founded well before online videos were a standard thing. So trying to find context like that isn't going to happen.

1

Its a pity the Astroid 6000 is no longer available, we still use a couple of them in our design office currently with Inventor 2019, these were purchased in 2008 and still work perfectly. Drivers were still available via spatialfreedom website, although couldnt access it today? These were also quarter of the price of the 3D Connexion items and cant knock the quality as these have been used eight hours a day for 13 years with no issues at all.

0

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.