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The Human Interface Technology Laboratory New Zealand has created an augmented reality book based on a story by New Zealand author Gavin Bishop. To experience the story the reader looks at the book through special glasses which makes the images from the page appear in three dimensional space above the page. The characters then act out the page's story. Read more about the interactive book at Technology Review.

At a recent convention a group of Hollywood icons including George Lucas and James Cameron extolled the virtues of three dimensional movies. Cameron says all his future movies will be shot in 3D and Lucas wants to release all six Star Wars movies in 3D. The Star Wars flicks would be converted from 2D to 3D using technology from In-Three Inc.

Here are two articles about the convention. ABC News. Guardian Unlimited.

If you'd like to build some geometric intelligence into your 3D application consider integrating the MORE SDK from Next Dimension Imaging. The SDK analyses a triangle based model and breaks it down into parts. It can then determine each part's dimensions or allow editing of just that part of the model. Another use of the SDK is searching for a part. For example, searching for a handle might result in a match with a teapot or coffee cup.

Novint has announced a 3D Touch Device for consumers. This haptic device resembles the FreeForm from SensAble Technologies although it looks a little cooler. The key here is that the product, called the Falcon, is targeted at consumers. Here's a quote from Novint's web site.

designed to retail for under $100 in mass market volumes and enables people to experience a realistic sense of touch on their PC, transforming how they play and interact.

Novint Falcon

If you want to show off your realtime programming skills and win some cash in the process you might be interested in competing in The Imagine Cup.

The project is a real time 3d rendering competition called The Imagine Cup.  Competitors are challenged to tell a story in 3d.  Students can collaborate with up to 3 teammates to create the best real time rendering coded in DirectX9 and Visual Studio .NET.  Everyone who registers to compete gets a free copy of Microsoft Visual Studio .NET.  The grand prize for the competition is $8000, and the winners will be flown to the awards ceremony in Yokohama Japan.

Swiss Ranger's SR-2 camera uses the time-of-flight principle and a real time (30 Hz) infrared array sensor to capture a three dimensional representation of the scene, called a depth image. The camera is small, about the length of a pen, and it can capture gray scale images in addition to the depth images.

The image shown here is an example of the reconstruction of a depth image into it's three dimensional form. Click the image to see a larger version.

Slashdot is hosting a reader review of a new book called 3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice. Here's a snippet from the review.

Two-dimensional user interfaces (UIs) have been around for a long time, and people are accustomed to using them. However, 3-dimensional user interfaces have not yet received as much exposure. Only a select few applications utilize 3D UIs, some with more success than others. The book 3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice (published by Addison-Wesley) attempts to give a broad overview of the field of 3D user interfaces. It discusses the hardware devices and the software techniques required to build successful 3D UIs and gives a number of design guidelines to follow when having to develop new 3D interaction techniques for specific applications.

2-D Holograms Make 3-D Color Display. This short article from Technology Review describes a three dimensional color display that uses 6 two dimensional holograms to generate the 3D effect.

SenseGraphics has announced their open source haptic API is available for beta testing. The API uses OpenGL for graphics rendering and allows developers to add force feedback to their applications.

H3D API uses popular open source libraries such as Python, Xerces, FreeImage and GLEW, as well as using SensAble technologies Open Haptics SDK for haptic rendering on the Phantom range of haptics devices.

Update: Information about SenseGraphics' Mobile Immersive Workbench has been added to the Display section.

A press release from 3Dsolar introduces their new three dimensional projector. Think Princess Leia's message from the original Star Wars movie. The product sounds cool, but without much detail on the web site it's hard to assess the true validity of the product. 3Dsolar plans to give a demo to Nvidia on October 25th so we'll keep you posted.

Most Siggraph articles covered the press releases and the news, but Gamasutra's Siggraph 2004 wrap up does a good job covering the papers. It breaks them down into categories and describes some of the more interesting papers. Free registration is required to view the article.

This week Engadget published a how-to for making 3D photos. They also show you where to get the free software you'll need. Check out the article. How-To Tuesday: Make 3-D photos.

More from Engadget. NEC has developed a 3D display for cell phones that has a whopping 232ppi pixel density in 3D mode. This detail also sounds interesting.

The entire display can be switched between 3D and 2D modes, but perhaps more importantly, part of the 2D display can also be switched to 3D display.

Embedded Entertainment with Smart Projectors describes projection technology that can be used on any surface. A real time per-pixel color correction algorithm removes the background from the image. The color correction algorithm runs on graphics hardware that supports pixel shaders. If you have the bandwidth to download the 22 MB video check it out.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo have developed a virtual clay sculpting system that creates a computer model as you sculpt real clay.

The technology uses a 'ModelGlove' developed by the researchers to record the force exerted by hand when depressing and shaping a block of clay. This force-feedback information, as well as information on hand position and speed of fingertip motion, is instantaneously communicated to a PC where a virtual block of clay - possessing characteristics mimicking the physical properties of the clay - is shaped precisely to the contouring of the actual clay.

While there is no product available for sale the technology is far enough along that the developers have filed for a provisional patent.

Update: In an EE Times article Virtual reality lab director Thenkurussi Kesavadas said "We are also planning to make it wireless."

Chip Miniaturizes Holography

Researchers from Chiba University and the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN) in Japan have built a hologram generator on a single circuit board.

The device could eventually be used for three-dimensional television, three-dimensional visualization of statistics, and three-dimensional medical imaging.

While it's not 3D CGI, this story may be of interest to some of our readers. Clik 3D sells cameras that use multiple lenses to take 3D pictures. The cameras are relatively inexpensive and after sending the images to Clik 3D for processing they'll send you lenticular prints. Lenticular prints present a different image to each eye so you see a three dimensional effect with the naked eye.

Total Immersion did a presentation at Demo 2004 that wowed the audience and won them an award. At the center of the hoopla was their augmented reality product, DFusion.

DFusion is a real time visual software that makes it possible to make augmented reality with standard PC computers provided with one or more video input , the whole with performances and high level quality of images.

From the description it might be hard to understand what DFusion can do so checkout this video (Windows Media) for a visual explaination. A Quicktime version of the video is available here.

StereoGraphics has created a competitive analysis document comparing their SynthaGram autostereoscopic monitors with the competition. The document explains some differences between Raster Barrier technology and Lenticular technology. Of course keep in mind that StereoGraphics wrote the document so it will naturally point out the good points of their chosen technology, Lenticular.

Eye Candy: Stereo 3D Imaging. This article by Tom's Hardware is pretty basic, but it explains the various forms of stereoscopic 3D currently on the market.

Hitachi has developed a prototype 3D display called "Transpost." It uses mirrors to project the image into the air. It sort of reminds me of the old dual parabolic mirror hologram trick.

Tri-Metric Offers 3D Solution for 2D AutoCAD Users. To summarize ... the software from 3D Metrix automatically creates a three dimensional drawing from two dimensional top, front, and side views. Sounds intriguing for those still struggling with the learning curve of going 3D. A demo is available.

Digital Element, Digimation Launch 3D Model Photoshop PlugIn. This plugin might be handy for some Photoshop users, saving the tedium of switching to a 3D app. The plugin allows 3D models to be imported to PhotoShop where they can be rotated, scaled, and have lighting applied.

This story was posted in the daily news, but I think it's interesting enough to be highlighted here. It seems that one of Sun's employees spent his own time developing a 3D interface for Linux and it impressed the execs enough that they assigned a project team to further develop the interface. The article doesn't have any screen shots and is lacking in the details, but thought of an improved PC interface is intriguing.

No one's been successful yet, but for years companies have been trying to make it easy for you to watch 3D movies. Not cheap. Just easy. Popular Mechanics has the details on Sensio's 3D set top system.

The multi-monitor buffs out there might be interested in Seamless Display's Horizon 320. It's a 40" LCD monitor that is like 3 displays in one, only without the bezels breaking up the view. The Horizon 320's resolution is 3632 by 1600.

Some time ago we posted news about a company called Three Guesses. Previously they sold some glasses free 3D pictures that you could hang on your wall. Now they've updated their web site with a new look and added a new service. The ability to get your own image printed in their glasses free 3D format. The prices seem reasonable. Check out the press release here.

The Register has posted a short news blurb from the EuroMold trade show titled Sketching in Space.

When children want to move a cursor towards the top of their computer screen, they typically lift up the computer mouse, notes designer Olaf Barski. So why not develop a cyber-stylus emulates this natural three-dimensional urge?

The story also contains a picture of the funky looking device.

Bringing "Virtual World" construction to the consumer desktop. That's the goal of a new project called VR-MAD (Virtual Reality Multimedia Access Device). The interesting thing about VR-MAD is that it is a device. Hardware not software.

The system will be powered by a high speed Java engine (custom ASIC), dedicated DSP chips, and parallel 3D engines for graphics rendering. It is NOT a general purpose computer but rather a high performance peripheral that off-loads compute intensive tasks from your computer.

The project appears to be in the funding phase. For more information check out the web site.

PC Magazine has a short review of Sharp's new notebook that features a glasses free 3D display. Find out whether it's worth buying for your needs here.

360Renders.com provides artists with a simple way to show off the quality of their 3D models. The artist renders 360 degree stills of their model and 360Renders converts these images into a web friendly format. The viewer can easily rotate the model from inside their web browser.

Why Not Make Interfaces Better than 3D Reality? Ben Shneiderman poses this question for IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications. The article covers many attempts at creating 3D interfaces and presents tips for creating usable interfaces. Here's a clip.

Three-dimensional environments are greatly appreciated by some users and are helpful for some tasks. They have the potential for novel social, scientific, and commercial applications if designers go beyond the goal of mimicking 3D reality.

Many engineering companies have legacy 2D drawings or still design in 2D so they might be interested in hearing about AutobuildZ. AutobuildZ is a free plug-in for Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire that uses a wizard based interface to convert 2D drawings to 3D. Data is associative between the drawings and model so updates to one will be reflected on the other.

Maya 5 Personal Learning Edition was recently made available as a free download so now's a good time to learn some more about animation as you learn Maya. Good facial animation is a valuable skill to add to your animation repitoire so check out this sample chapter of Stop Staring: Facial Modeling and Animation Done Right. So far this new book has a 5 star user rating on Amazon.

An interesting new technology called Heliodisplay projects video images into thin air. Here is how IO2 Technology, the company behind Heliodisplay, describes the technology.

Heliodisplay projects full color streaming video into thin air using a revolutionary technology that produces a 27-inch image and is Plug-and-Play compatible with most video sources (TV, DVD, Computer, Video Consoles). These non-holographic images are fully interactive allowing a hand or finger to select, navigate and manipulate them -- as if they were on a virtual touch screen.

Here is the Reuters article about Heliodisplay. This single page write up has a couple pictures and gives a good overview of the technology.

In case you missed this in the daily news last week Sharp announced a notebook with a 3D display that doesn't require glasses to view the effect.

The 3-D feature will be in computers with a 15-inch display and Intel's Pentium 4 processor, and will hit store shelves on October 27 in Japan. The U.S. launch is set at around the same time.

Read the full article here.

Spiral Graphics has released their seamless texture maker, Genetica. The texture creation program has a visual node based editing system and it comes with over 100 ready to use texture presets. The presets can be used as is or modified to your liking. Completely new textures can be created as well. Check out the guided tour for a quick feature rundown.

Dimentor InspectorHere at 3dcgi we're always searching for new interfaces and this Desktop Engineering article gives a quick rundown of some hardware products on the market. For example you can check out a quick description of the interesting looking Dimentor Inspector, shown here.

An interesting product not mentioned in the article is the SpaceNavigator from 3Dconnexion. It combines an programmable internet keyboard with a 3D puck to allow the user to quickly navigate through applications.

It's been almost a month since Siggraph, but here are a couple of good reports that never got linked. Both are from a game developer's perspective courtesy of GameDev.net and flipCode.

You've probably never seen a modeling interface like this before. InDex Hands-In Modeling presents the user with a two-handed interface that completely removes a mouse from the modeling process. It looks a little like you're operating a crane, but you're directly affecting objects in the scene rather than indirectly manipulating objects like with a real crane. If a picture's worth a thousand words then do the math to figure out what a 10 minute video is worth. There's one available for download on Digital Artform's web site.

Tom's Hardware has some good coverage of Siggraph 2003. The article spotlights a variety of products and research ranging from AMD64 to Virtual Food.

VRML is still hanging around and companies are still developing tools to make Web3D fun and easy to use. Enter VRMLmagic from Scintillating Graphics. A tool for creating interactive 3D (Virtual Reality) web pages in the VRML/X3D/Web3D format. The initial release is for the Windows (98 and above) platforms. Mac OS X and Unix versions will be available soon.

VRMLmagic was developed as part of a research project with the aim of making a rapid development environment for the construction of 3D user interfaces.

Having created a tool that enabled us to quickly build interactive 3D interfaces, we realized its potential for the mainstream web development industry, and in particular its ability to bring 3D content to the web. We now hope this tool will enable other users to begin developing the enormous potential of interactive 3D content for the web.

Ironically, what I found interesting about this NASA article wasn't the current research, but some old research that was mentioned. The goal of the new research is to generate 3D models from 2D pictures of Mars. Interesting, but many others are working on this as well.

The older research wasn't necessarily a new concept, but it was a novel application. Creating a single high resolution image from multiple low resolution images. The idea being, if you take multiple photographs each picture will contain slightly different samples of the scene, effectively giving you sub-pixel accuracy. I envision this concept as being similar to the super-sampling approaches of some rendering algorithms that jitter the scene geometry and render to an accumulation buffer.

If you know of any commercial programs that use this approach to capture high resolution images and I'll pass along the information.

A new version of PhotoModeler was announced recently. PhotoModeler 5 has added the ability to create silhouette solids. This means PhotoModeler allows the user to choose the type of image based modeling technique that will work best for each specific object, without requiring the user to switch modeling programs. See 3dcgi's article on image based modeling programs for more details about image based modeling techniques.

Some other new features include improved support for NURBS surfaces, integrated camera calibration, and a redesigned photo texturing system that allows multiple textures to be assigned to a single surface.

DramaView Announces Novel "Multi Mode" High Resolution Display. Here's a quote from the press release.

"Televisions built with the multi program mode, will end the fight for the remote control. Dad can watch the football game, while the kids watch cartoons, and mom surfs on the internet all on the same television at the same time", according to Ray M. Alden, President of DramaView and inventor of the system. Perhaps best of all, "no resolution is sacrificed when operating in any of the three modes."

These are some hefty claims. It will be interesting to see how this technology pans out.

The displays article has been updated to include the HoloVizio product line from Holografika. The HoloVizio displays are 3D, but not stereoscopic. The 32" and 26" displays are viewable by multiple people simultaneously without head tracking.

Read more about Holografika here.

Fakespace to Develop 1600x1200 Stereoscopic Projection. Here's a clip from the press release.

With 1600 x 1200 pixels native resolution, the projector technology enables visualization of complex data sets and provides extremely rich detail that was not possible with active stereo, digital projection until now. The data sets can be viewed in extreme resolution in either active stereoscopic or monoscopic modes.

Are you interested in watching DVDs in 3D? If so you might want to read more about eDimensional's 3Dplus software. When used in combination with eDimensional's glasses the 3Dplus software allows consumers to watch their existing DVDs in stereoscopic 3D. And it works with any graphics chip.

Tiger and X3D Launch a 3D Personal Computer. ExtremeTech gives some details about a PC designed with gaming and 3D glasses in mind. However, a more interesting product is also mentioned.

The TVROX from X3D is a $299 device that converts any composite or S-video signal into a format visible with 3D shutter glasses.

Advanced Rendering Technology has announced software updates for their PURE and RenderDrive products. Radiosity in 3ds max 5 and Viz 4 is now supported. Another interesting feature is weighted frame splitting. This allows the rendering workload of a single frame to be distributed across multiple rendering devices.

A while back we posted news about an upcoming program called Organica that automatically creates seamless/tileable textures. The program has now entered beta testing and it has been given a new name, Genetica.

Spiral Graphics has begun accepting applications for the beta test of its upcoming seamless textures application, Genetica (formerly known as Organica). Genetica helps automate seamless texture creation, promising to expedite the workflow of game artists, 3D designers, and others using tiling textures or repeating backgrounds.

Beta testers "will be rewarded with a free copy of Genetica once the texture maker is officially released this summer" so if you're interested read the full press release.

You've seen 360 degree video panoramas and you've seen stereoscopic video, but how about a combination of the two? This is what Prairie Logic's Virtual Video Reality (VVR) technology promises with up to HDTV resolutions. Computer Graphics World has a good summary of VVR here (scroll down the page). Or you can check out Prairie Logic's web site directly.

Currently there are quite a few image based modeling programs on the market, some quite expensive. Many of you might be wondering if there are any free alternatives. Now that PhotoModeler Lite is no longer supported there is only one free program left, 3D Scanner from Braunschweig University of Technology.

3D Scanner is a student project that uses a silhouette based approach to create computer models of convex objects. The program is not as powerful as professional solutions like D Sculptor, but it should be a good way to learn about the technology. This source code is available as well.

Maya 5 is here. On Sunday April 6th Alias|Wavefront announced the newest release of their flagship graphics software. Maya 5 includes many new enhancements. A few notable features include the new hardware renderer and paint to polygons. Here is a clip from the press release.

As of Maya 5, Maya Paint Effects(tm) can now be drawn as, or converted to, polygons. This latest advance enables Maya Paint Effects to be edited with regular polygon tools and output to other renderers, including mental ray.

The hardware renderer utilizes the graphics card to render pre-visualization and broadcast quality images much faster than is possible with software. It "works with most programmable graphics Hardware."

Here's a little more information concerning the stereoscopic render support in rtre. Version 1.1, supports stereoscopic glasses in OpenGL. Cubicspace recommends the Stereographics CrystalEyes3 wireless glasses in combination with a Quadro 4.

Real-time stereoscopic renders are available inside the max/viz viewports or with the stand alone executeable that is given to clients.

Over the past few years 3D has become an integral part of the design process in many industries, allowing clients to visualize what they are buying before they buy it. Cubicspace's rtre is a tool that will allow clients to view buildings interactively instead of being limited to the viewpoint of a pre-rendered walkthrough.

rtre operates as an extended max/viz viewport. It supports collision detection, scripted events, a stereoscopic render mode, and interactive updates of modeling changes made in the regular max/viz viewports. Lighting changes are baked in at the touch of a button.

The real purpose of the interactive viewport in max/viz isn't to give a better representation of the final max/viz render. Its purpose is to reflect what clients will see when you give them a stand alone executable. To quote the rtre literature. This stand alone application "enables you to create portable real-time presentations or demonstrations of your scenes while maintaining the usual rtre features such as animation, triggers, and 3D sound." Click here to read more and tryout a demo.

A group of 5 Japanese manufacturers including Sony and Sharp have formed a group called the 3D Consortium. The groups goal is to create standards for bringing three dimensional displays to various devices, including computers and phones. Read more about the group here.

Mac users looking for a 3D file browsing interface should check out 3DOSX. The application is free to download and it was started by students at the University of Illinois. Mark Levin, a programmer on the development team had this to say about 3DOSX.

One of the main advantages of 3DOSX over the traditional Finder is the ability to view multiple entire paths at once. We were able to allow this only because we added a third dimension in which to place the objects.

The above quote was taken from this article.

Continuing with the tileable textures topic from the previous news post we have the Real Texture Tools from CGSD. This product suite has been around for a few years as plugins to Adobe Photoshop. The AutoTile tool does exactly what its name says when given a source photograph. A few quick tests of the demo yielded good results. Please note however that while the edges will be seamless AutoTile does not guarantee that the texture won't contain parts that look repetitive when tiled. Manual work is still needed to balance luminosity and other features of the texture. However, the user's guide that comes with the demo contains some tips for removing these blemishes.

If you've ever had to design seamless/tileable textures for a video game you know what a time consuming and difficult process it can be. An upcoming product called Organica, from Spiral Graphics, has an ambitious goal of automating the creation of seamless textures. It remains to be seen if this software will become a hit with game designers, but the idea is definitely intriguing. Visit the web site to see some sample textures.

It looks like Viewsonic will be licensing 3D display technology from DDD and StereoGraphics. Viewsonic has a solid market position in the computer display market so this might signal that 3D displays are close to becoming mainstream. Here's the press release.

The world's first, solid-state three-dimensional computer monitor should be available in 2003. Developed by VIZTA3D, Inc. (formerly Dimensional Media Associates) the Z 20|20 monitor consists of 20 stacked LCD panels that allow viewers to see objects in three dimensions without the need for glasses. Unlike auto-stereoscopic displays VIZTA3D's DepthCube technology doesn't limit the field of view allowing multiple people to experience the 3D effect simultaneously. Read the news story here.

Toshiba demoed a 3D display in a laptop at Comdex. Here's a short write up and a picture. C|net has some video clips of the display.

Most current 3D displays use a lenticular like sheet to direct separate images to each eye, but some researchers consider this but a step toward the ultimate goal.

Perlin has started researching what would widely be considered the ultimate in full-motion 3-D: a system that projects holograms into thin air-along the lines of R2-D2's projection of Princess Leia in the opening minutes of the original Star Wars film.

This article in the November issue of Technology Review magazine discusses the research being done for true holographic displays. Here's what the article says regarding MIT's holographic display.

The system has some way to go, though, before it's likely to be commercialized. The biggest problem is that making a video hologram requires crunching enormous amounts of data.

Precision Lightworks recently introduced Nverse Photo 2.0. Enhancements to the urban modeling tool include better camera registration and the ability to merge modeling results with geo-referenced data sets like USGS terrain models. For a more detailed writeup check out this article.

Intel's Light Field Mapping (LFM) technology is now available for free as part of an open source toolkit, available here. The software models the way light reflect off real objects and the toolkit

consists of software for composition of 3-D images from digital photos and code for playback of the LFM objects. Developers can use the code as is or modify it for use in their applications.

Cad Digest has an article on Intelligent Architectural Modeling that discusses the current state of intelligent objects and the Single Building Model. While the technology isn't ready for primetime it's progressing and it could impact the future of architectural design.

So, there you have it, it's not just a question of moving from 2D to 3D or from dumb graphics to intelligent objects, it's also an issue of transitioning from working on layered and referenced 'files' to a information rich centralized database. So while there may be benefits to moving to intelligent modeling, the implications of adopting a Single Building Model system are incredibly far reaching and influence not only your firm's technology infrastructure, process, training requirements and standards but have the potential to impact the whole industry's culture and methodology.

Sharp has recently been doing a little PR for their upcoming 3D display. The key point of their technology is the display can easily switch between 2D and 3D. DTI's displays have the same feature so we'll have to wait for more information to find out if Sharp truly brings something new to the table. An interesting twist, presented in this article, is the initial market for the display. PDA screens.

The first products, probably PDAs and handheld games players, are scheduled for launch early next year, although next-generation TVs are the long-term target.

Conceptual 3D Modeling with SketchUp covers some of that programs innovative features and its limitations. SketchUp is a conceptual 3D modeling program for architects and other designers. Here's a quote from the article.

I found it possible to get started in SketchUp and explore the program without referring to the documentation at all, which would be impossible with other CAD or 3D-modeling programs. Having said that, it does help to go through the well-designed video tutorials that come with the program before plunging into real work on actual projects.

OpenRT is an API that's designed to add ray tracing to real-time rendering engines. The following abstract from this paper sums up the goals of the project.

Ray-tracing is well-known as a general and flexible rendering algorithm that generates high-quality images. But in the past, ray-tracing implementations were too slow to be used in an interactive context. Recently, the performance of ray-tracing has been increased by over an order of magnitude, making it interesting as an alternative to rasterization-based rendering. We present a new rendering engine for interactive 3D graphics based on a fast, scalable, and distributed ray-tracer. It offers an extended OpenGL-like API, supports interactive modifications of the scene, handles complex scenes with millions of polygons, and scales efficiently to many client machines. We demonstrate that the new renderer provides more flexibility, more rendering features, and higher performance for complex scenes than current rasterization hardware. Its flexibility enables new types of applications including a system for interactive global illumination.

While the abstract is probably a little misleading concerning performance versus traditional rasterization (since it requires distributed computing) it is none-the-less encouraging to see improvements in the performance of ray tracing methods. More options for interactive applications is definitely a good thing.

Poser 5 is now shipping. One interesting feature is "Photo-based facial mapping." This feature allows real portraits to be mapped to your character. All you need are front and size views of a subject's head and the subject can be made into a computer model.

Siggraph 2002 has come and gone. Read 3dcgi's own article to hear about products and technologies the others didn't mention. Learn how you can animate crowds and ray trace in real-time.

Game development website Flipcode has written a detailed Siggraph article. The article focuses on areas of interest to game developers. Two covered topics are papers and game design.

ExtremeTech has published a Siggraph 2002 roundup article titled New Technologies Star at SIGGRAPH. The coverage ranges from consumer graphics chips to emerging technologies.

Photonix Imaging Inc. has been awarded a holography contract for the Ice Man and Visible Human Projects at the University of Michigan. Photonix uses their light valve technology to print holograms using three dimensional computer data. The data can come from 3D animation software or multiple photographs. Other options are available as well. Here is an image that describes the printing process. You can read the full press release here. Visit the Photonix web site to find out more.

Essential Reality should soon be releasing the P5 Glove. "The P5 is a glove-like peripheral that has been engineered to capture five-finger bend sensitivity enabling gesture recognition." Games are a target market and the P5 will be priced at $149. For more information see their web site.

Are Holograms Finally For Real? That's what Business 2.0 asks in their July 2002 issue. The article discusses how Zebra Imaging's Hologram technology was used by Ford to show off a Thunderbird prototype. It also does a fairly good job of explaining how the technology works. Don't miss the sidebar diagram at the end of the article, it almost looks like an ad, but it's not.

We're starting to see many competitors come to market with autostereoscopic computer displays, but what about traditional 2D pictures? Are companies to ignore them in favor of their digital brethren? No longer. Three Guesses, Inc. is putting a twist on traditional lenticular printing with the help of their recent inventions. Currently a few images are available for purchase with more to come. Unfortunately these images can't be seen in 3D through a 2D computer screen so Three Guesses will need to rely on faith and word of mouth to get sales rolling.

A new language called C for graphics (Cg) is making some noise. Cg was developed by nVidia and its goal is to present developers with a high level programming language that can be compiled to work with both Direct3D and OpenGL. This article by ExtremeTech is fairly good and includes an interview with Kurt Akeley, a founder of SGI and co-inventor of OpenGL.

Another article presents a pessimistic view of Cg and brings up some good points. However, the article is written by a developer of a similar language for the PlayStation 2 so take it and any nVidia sponsored articles with a grain of salt. One of the examples given in the article is that Cg currently has no break, continue, goto, switch, case, or default statements. These are useful features that can be used without penalty on other processors. Instead of making these features available now nVidia is reserving them until a time when their hardware supports them. There are sure to be a number of in depth articles published in the coming months as developers and competitors dig deeper into the language so stay tuned.

Deep View is an ultra high resolution display (9.2 million pixels) developed by IBM. Current graphics adapters are unable to interactively process enough pixels to drive the display so IBM had to implement technology to get around this limitation. This article from IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications is mostly about the methods IBM used to cluster eight dual processor Linux workstations to provide the necessary graphics power.

How To Design Cars And Scare Children - this short InformationWeek article describes how car manufacturers are using virtual reality to speed car design.

Genex Technologies Inc. offers numerous three dimensional imaging products including Rainbow 3D cameras and digitizers, OmniEye 360 degree camera system, and 3D Volume Viewer. The Rainbow 3D cameras are portable, but limited to indoor use because they use projected light to capture images. OmniEye is a hemispherical camera that provides a wide field of view for security applications.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed a patent-pending technique for "Making Three-Dimensional Holograms Visible From All Sides." Here is a quote describing the medium.

An essential element of the technique is the use of block of silica aerogel as the display medium. Silica aerogel is an open-cell glass foam with a chemical composition similar to that of quartz and a density as low as about one-tenth that of quartz. The sizes of cell features are of the order of 100 Å. Silica aerogel is a suitable display medium because it is nearly completely transparent, with just enough scattering and reflection to enable the generation of a real image.

Potential uses of the technology are the military and the entertainment industry.

The HandGear 3D Navigation Touchpad is a new computer interface from DSI Technology. It uses gesture recognition instead of normal techniques. It remains to be seen how useful HandGear is, but it's good to see something different. HandGear was spotlighted in Computer Graphics World.

Extreme 3D Art. A new article from Computer Graphics World gives an overview of some advanced technologies artists are beginning to use. Topics cover 3D data capture to solid printing.

Here's some more information on Canesta's CMOS sensor. This EE Times article includes a patent outline which gives a little more technical information than Canesta's web site provides.

Canesta, Inc. has developed what they call Electronic Perception Technology. This is actually a 3D CMOS imaging sensor. To create a depth map the sensor emits a pulse of infrared light and calculates the time it takes for the light to return. Markets targeted by Canesta include automotive, consumer electronics, mobile devices, security, and more. Product ideas cover areas relating to safety as well as entertainment. According to Canesta's web site expect to see product announcements in the coming months.

A new natural computer interface from a company called Reachin. Two versions are available.

The Reachin Display integrates a PHANTOMT force feedback device from SensAble Technologies with stereo monitor and supporting systems. The innovative use of a semi-transparent mirror creates an interface where graphics and haptics are co-located - the user can see and feel the object in the same place!

Watching the concept avi file (3MB) is the best way to understand how the display system works.

SketchUp 2.0 is now available from @Last Software. New features include:

  • * 2D Hidden-Line Vector (HLV) Output
    * Print to Scale
    * Scale Tool (with Mirror Capabilities)
    * Multi-copy (Linear and Radial Arrays)
    * Groups
    * In-Place Group and Component Editing
    * Auto-Folding Geometry
    * Enhanced Color and Material Exploration
    * Image Objects
    * Plus many enhancements to existing features

For more information about SketchUp check out the official web site or read 3dcgi's own article.

Olympus has a new 3D aquisition device called the 3D ScanTop. It includes a turntable, lighting setup, background, digital camera stand, and software to control everything. A number of cameras are supported including some non-Olympus models. It looks like the entire process is fairly automated. The turntable limits the size of model being digitized, but the software supports larger models, so if necessary you can make your own turntable and background to digitize large objects. It costs $4995.

The January 2002 issue of Cadence magazine has an article about 3D display technology. The article covers four technologies ranging in price from $299 to $69,495.

Check out this review of DTI's 3D Monitor from the February 2002 issue of Computer Graphics World. It is the most comprehensive review yet written and focuses more on design and software compatibility than most reviews.

On January 9 2002, Eyetronics announced a capture system called ShapeCam. It is not a 3D camera, but a lightweight frame that holds a digital camera and flash device. Two laser points help set the object distance and the flash properly lights the object being captured. The resulting images are then imported into Eyetronics software which creates the actual 3D model. Read the press release here.

HP Labs is increasing the photorealism of texture maps. The research project is called Polynomial Texture Mapping. Polynomial Texture Maps (PTMs) are in essence an advanced form of bump maps that are acquired from photographs. HP has "found PTMs especially useful for the display and enhancement of ancient clay tablets". In addition to the HP Labs link above you might be interested in checking out a write up from TechTV titled "Solving Mysteries with Photo-Realism Tech".

The January 2002 issue of Computer Graphics World has an interesting article on Single View Modeling. Single View Modeling is a technique that "creates realistic 3D free-form surfaces from photographs and paintings." When humans look at a photograph the brain uses depth cues hidden in the image to create the perspective that we see. The article describes a technique that attempts to simulate in a computer what the human brain does for us automatically.

In their special effects work for The Lord of the Rings Weta Digital created custom software to make scan data easily useable. The software was based on a 1996 Siggraph paper titled "Fitting Smooth Surfaces to Dense Polygon Meshes." Clay maquettes were scanned with a Polhemus handheld scanner which created millions of data points. The custom software created a base mesh and displacement map from the scan data. The comparitively low resolution base mesh could be interacted with in realtime and used to setup animations. The displacement map added back the original detail at rendertime. The main author of the paper founded Paraform, a software company that commercialized the techniques from the paper. For more information on effects techniques used in The Lord of the Rings see the December 2001 issue of Computer Graphics World.

Computer Graphics World magazine has updated their Tech Watch section. One article titled "Showcasing Augmented Reality" details a projection based technology that mixes real and virtual objects.

Nverse Photo, a new image-based modeling program from Precision Lightworks, tries to reduce the effort required to model cities from aerial photographs.

Nverse Terra, also from Precision Lightworks, builds landscapes from USGS digital elevation maps.

Take the next step from creating a static model of a face and animate it. 3DMeNow can do both. First a model is created from a front and side profile of a face. Then the model can be animated using one of 35 available actions. The Pro version can output the model and animation data to programs like 3ds max and Maya. It even includes morph-targets for facial animation and lip-synching applications like LIPSinc VentriliquistT. The consumer version is $49.

If you've ever wanted to put your face in a game like Unreal, Quake 3, or The Sims now you can. Cyberextruder.com has developed software that will convert a single 2D image into a 3D model. A demo is available on the web site. Just send them a picture and you're ready to go.

A new company on the 3D display scene is New View Systems. They claim to have a fresh approach to displaying true 3D images. Currently they have a prototype and are looking for financing.

Advanced Rendering Technology (ART) has now unveiled Pure, a PCI 3D rendering board for graphics workstations. Pure uses eight of ART's AR350 ray-tracing graphics processors. Each AR350 features a geometry co-processor for performing ray/triangle intersection calculations and a programmable shading co-processor for performing shading and lighting calculations. The Pure P1800 is capable of performing over 1.1 billion ray/triangle intersection tests each second.

While Pure is not as powerful as ART's RenderDrive, at $3699 it is much more affordable. If you do a lot of ray-tracing give this product a look.

Check out a new touch free interface. No it's not mind control. JesterTek's JestPoint interface technology is a replacement for touch screens. Here is a description from JesterTek's web site.

The stereo camera control technology utilizes depth, allowing the control of any screen size from any distance. The computer sees in 3D space and is able to tell the distance, and makeup, of the 'moving objects' in front of its 'eyes'.

The inclusion of a stereo camera to track distance makes this technology stand out. It will be interesting to see what other applications people come up with.

Researchers at the University of Tsukuba have created a haptic display called FEELEX. The system combines a projector, actuators, and a bendable sheet to produce a images that viewers can feel. As the image is pressed the actuators push back. Soft substances will give while hard substances will not. The viewer does not need to wear any special equipment to experience the haptic feedback. Unfortunately the Siggraph paper is only available directly from ACM.

The University of North Carolina's haptic painting system, called dAb, uses a Phantom force feedback interface as a virtual 3D paintbrush. An artist's strokes are processed by the software and displayed on the screen. The result is affected by variables such as pressure, brush type, stroke speed, and wetness. Applying a fresh brush stroke over wet paint will have a different effect than applying the same stroke over dry paint. Just like real paint would. DAB currently supports acrylic and oil paints. The web site has some great examples of paintings made with this system.

Another autostereoscopic display has marched onto the scene. This time from StereoGraphics. The display (Synthagram) uses lenticular technology like many of its competitors, but StereoGraphics claims to have the industries largest "sweet spot", 120 degrees.

SGI's OpenGL Shader now supports Linux.

"OpenGL Shader provides a common interface to support not only all previous visual effects (including RealityMappingTM , ClearCoat, ClearCoat360TM , bump mapping, multiple textures, environment maps, and volume shading) but also an unlimited array of new effects. OpenGL Shader achieves this flexibility through interactive programmable shading using hardware acceleration on standard OpenGL graphics cards."

EETimes has an article about Actuality Systems Inc.'s prototype 3D display. The display was demoed at the recent Society for Information Display conference. Read 3dcgi's own article for a quick overview about this and other 3D displays.

This isn't exactly 3D technology, but it is a new way to enjoy 3D games and get exercise at the same time. Something many of us sorely need. The GAMEbike Virtual Trainer provides an interface between your game device and bicycle. It emulates a joystick. This allows you to play car racing games or whatever you wish and get exercise at the same time. GAMEbike was announced at E3 2001 and initially it will be very expensive, but hopefully the price will come down if demand is high enough.

4D-Vision GmbH is the newest 3D display company to make a splash in the US. During NAB 2001 they won the Mario award with their partners Dynamic Digital Depth. Visit their web site or read the 3D displays article to learn more about 4D-Vision's technology.

New York University (NYU) has a neat demo that shows two possible implementations of glasses free 3D displays. Viewing these demos is the easiest way to grasp the concept behind 3D LCDs.

SketchUp received a favorable review from Cadence magazine. Also check out 3dcgi's article. SketchUp is an intuitive modeling program from @Last Software.

The May 2001 issue of Computer Graphics World magazine has a good article on autostereo 3D displays. Check out "degrees of freedom."

The Magic Book interface is featured in the May/June issue of IEEE Computer Graphics & Applications magazine. In addition to being a real book Magic Book lets readers become part of the story through virtual reality. See the article for more information on this innovative interface.

VFXPro is reporting that Canon will soon be selling a stereoscopic 3D zoom lens for their XL1 camera. It will allow you to take high quality stereo images.

There's more competition in the desktop 3d display market. The Dresden 3D Display (D4D) features an 18.1" TFT LCD panel, eye tracking, and more. Read more about it.

3D Snapper from interzart AG is an image based modeling program that is similar to D Sculptor. The entire object is highlighted instead of assigning control points between images. Read about other image based modeling programs here.

Eyetronics has announced another enhancement to their ShapeSnatcher software targeted at game developers. A plugin called Remodeler will capture faces and morph them onto different skeletons. The goal is to make it easier for game developers to add actors and personalities to their games.

Eyetronics has announced a new version of their ShapeSnatcher model aquisition software. It has a new feature that will help game developers. Now you can reduce the number of samples by half and still keep the high resolution texture. Check out VFXPro for a quick overview of the new features.

Startup Xulu Entertainment is rolling out a next-generation multimedia development platform that promises the most realistic game of "pretend" yet devised. The secret sauce providing the new level of virtual reality-style entertainment is a simulator that adds the physical sensation of motion to the virtual reality (VR) experience.

Check out the full article from EE Times.

D Vision Works Limited brings a new approach to creating models from photographs with their product, D Sculptor. Read more about it.

A new web browser, with a three dimensional look, is currently in beta. CubicEye from 2ce, Inc. displays five web pages at a time. The main page forms the back of a cube. Screenshots and demos are available from 2ce's web site. It might be frustrating for people with small monitors and is probably not as efficient as dual monitors, but check it out for yourself.

DDD's Key Framer and Tweener:
DDD has developed "intelligent" automated rotoscoping toolstools to automate the process of depth mapping, which calculates 3D data for existing 2D images. Depth maps are widely used in postproduction to create and integrate animated computer-generated images and historical footage into live-action sequences. Read the full press release.

If you're not happy with tradtional 3D modeling tools try SketchUp. Combine this program with a pen based drawing tablet and it really could be the closest thing available to sketching a 3D model.

SketchUp is geared for the AEC industry, which means architects and engineers, so while its great for creating inanimate objects you might find organic objects are tough to model. The intuitive snap tools and automatic polygon filling set this product apart from the crowd.

SPIN, the Spherical Projection Interface, is an interesting attempt at combining reality and virtual reality. The users stands inside a 3 meter wide translucent sphere, which from the inside looks like a large wireframe dome. The sphere is able to rotate freely allowing the user to interact with the wireframe environment. One environment allows the user to walk up a simulated incline. Another challenges the user to navigate a maze.

ROOMS 3d desktops is a new 3D GUI with wallpapers and desktop icons among which you move (just like a 3d game). Organize stuff in a fast, flexible free virtual reality world.

Ethereal Technologies announces deployment of it's first VIS4D T beta volumetric imaging systems. "This patented system has the unique ability to display real-time holographic-like images, which float in mid air, without need for HMD or special viewing glasses." View the full press release.

TriDComm is developing a 3D file manager for Windows. It remains be seen if interfaces like this will be useful, but it is nice to see people trying to innovate.

Wired has a short article about Dimensional Media's Volumetric Display which was shown at Comdex.

New Scientist magazine has an article about the future of 3D Printing and how it could affect businesses and consumers.

In their October 2000 issue Computer Graphics World writes about a system that uses lego like building blocks to create computer models. It would be hard to create sophisticated models using blocks, but these models could be used as a base and later fine tuned. Similar to how polygon box modeling is done today, but with a large head start.

It is also easy to envision this technology being incorporated into toys. Allowing kids to create their own computer models. Something kids aren't able to do with today's complicated software.
Read more.

Dynamic Digital Depth Inc. (DDD) announced a partnership with 4D-Vision. DDD makes 2D to 3D conversion technology. 4D Vision is a developer of glasses free 3D displays.

Screens Mean True 3-D For PCs - Wired has a story on a new 3-D LCD.

Magic Book, demonstrated at Siggraph 2000, explores transitional Augmented Reality (AR) interfaces and interaction techniques in the context of a book. A book metaphor was chosen because readers are transported to imaginary places by the pictures and text on the pages. Similar to a normal book, people can turn pages, look at the pictures, and read the text. The Magic Book expands on the idea of a "pop-up" book by offering three-dimensional animated and interactive virtual images.

SGI's OpenGL Shader technology will allow RenderMan like shaders to be calculated in hardware. "OpenGL Shader accomplishes this transformation by introducing a compiler between the application and the graphics library that translates shaders into OpenGL rendering passes."

To find out more read the technical paper, "Interactive Multi-Pass Programmable Shading", that was published at Siggraph 2000.

Elumens' Visionstation is a hemispherical workspace that could help you impress clients. It would probably make for a terrific arcade display too, but that is not the target market. The display wraps 180° around users engulfing them in a three dimensional world.

Tom's Hardware has an informative article on accurate 3D benchmarks. Find out what really matters and why some benchmarks are better than others.

3D Printers allow you to quickly create physical models from CAD designs. If you need a better way visualize designs this technology might be for you. Check out an article from EE Times.

Early next year Actuality Systems, Inc. will be releasing a new autostereoscopic display. The 3D images can be viewed from all angles. Read more about it in the Cool Technologies section.

Face2Face has announced a revolutionary new approach to facial animation. The software is based on technology developed at Lucent. It analyzes video of a person talking and generates a text file describing the animation. The data can then be imported into popular animation programs, like Softimage, or streamed over the internet to control characters in a web cast.

Win3D is three dimensional user interface for Windows. It's not likely that it will soon replace your two dimensional desktop, but you might enjoy seeing what could be a glimpse of the future.

The IEEE Computer Society has posted an article by Jim Foley titiled "Getting There: The Top Ten Problems Left." Check it out. You might be inspired to tackle one of these challenges. Foley is an author of the book "Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice."

If you need a lot of screen space for design visualizations you might be interested in the Panoram PV 290 wide screen display.

Intrinsic Alchemy™ from Intrinsic Graphics allows game developers to design once for multiple platforms like the PC and PlayStation 2. Game developers write their custom code inside the framework of Intrinsic Alchemy's application and scene graphs. Then they use a different, entendable, Alchemy core for each targeted hardware platform. The image on this page probably does a better job explaining the architecture than this short paragraph. If you design games for multiple platforms this product could allow you to spend more time designing content and less time on platform issues.

WildTangent has developed a web driver that allows a program to take advantage of DirectX acceleration through a web browser. The driver supports windowed and full screen games. The most interesting demo is a car racing game written in Java. It has three cars and one track. The driver is only a 300KB download and the game is an additional 1.1MB in high quality mode. With a broadband connection the game doesn't take any longer to load than a normal CD game. This product is definitely a step in the right direction for Web3D.

Dimensional Media Associates (DMA) recently announced a new technology called High Definition Volumetric Display (HDVD). It projects a true three dimensional image into mid-air without using lasers and without requiring the user to wear special glasses. The product is targeted at a variety of applications including advertising, entertainment, medicine, and scientific visualization. Read more about HDVD and other display technologies in the Cool Technologies section.

3DV Systems, LTD has developed an add on to television studio cameras, called ZCam, that captures depth information in real time. This allows studios to remove backgrounds from their sets without using a solid blue or green background. Ideally this will reduce costs and make television sets easier to maintain. Read about other types of three dimensional cameras in the Cool Technologies section.

Two companies are looking to bring three dimensional images to mainstream audiences. Dynamic Digital Depth, Inc. has 2D to 3D conversion products targeted at consumers and broadcasters. DeepSee Photo will allow consumers to generate three dimensional images from photographs and professionals can use DeepSee Studio Pro to convert movies and television shows to 3D.

C-3D Digital, Inc. has a 24 hour television station dedicated to 3D content. Original programs are filmed in 3D and existing 2D programing is converted. To view the content you need to purchase a converter box and glasses from C-3D. Prices range from $189 to $249.

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