Sunlight on Imagina 2011

By Michael
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Monaco in the south of France is an attractive venue especially this time of the year when people living in places further north are hungry for some Mediterranean sun beams.

During my one day here I not only was able to see trees filled with oranges during what elsewhere is called winter (see my iPhone shot for a proof), I also had the pleasure to visit the Imagina 2011 event and exhibition, and to get updated on the latest news in 3D simulation and visualization solutions.

I wanted to share with you my personal impression and what stood out for me during my technofair walk-around:

1.) Convergence of the Physical and Virtual Content

During the visit of the vendor exhibition I’ve seen solutions targeted to digitize real objects, and to transfer them into a virtual environment – for augmenting the value of such application.

Objects range from whole  landscapes (for geo localization systems), houses to whole cities (in architecture and construction, city development), any industrial object (for reverse engineering) and also living objects (for health care applications).

To illustrate the point I choose a company called Topcon. They offer scanning solutions to digitize physical objects up to the size of a mountain range with an equipment in a fixed position.

In contrast to the statical use above, the equipment also can be mounted on a car and thus become a mobile data acquisition unit.

When cruising a city the whole environment can be digitized in 360° (other than Google’s service which consists of patch-worked 2D images) and the data are used to create a full 3D model of the recordings.

Imagine how a digitized environment of real 3D can add value to a virtual experience. It just gets more real.

See the video to understand how that works:

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Looking at the the digital environments and virtual worlds presented to visitors at Imagina I have seen many efforts to let the 3D scenarios and characters show a maximum of realism. 3D geometries, colors and surfaces, human-like movements. Everything is done to convey the perception that the “virtual is real“, to draw the user into the scenario.

Most realistic presentation of virtual content makes use of  stereoscopic projection (needs glasses) and 3D screens (without glasses, and more and more convenient to look at), enabling power of graphics accelerators, innovative combination of standard hardware components to accomplish user immersion (AMD/ATI Eyefinity, can be visited at Dassault Systèmes Campus in Vélizy), and finally immersion by multi-touch navigation or full body use.

Dassault Systèmes runs a partnership program with leading manufacturers of devices and technologies which helps to drive this integration of physical and virtual environments. Lifelike experience needs the means to accomplish interaction of users and virtual applications.

2.) 3D Industry Applications

Imagina, as I was told, used to be a show for artists, designers and movie makers. Now my impression is that those are outnumbered by people who are interested in solving challenges in key industrial processes, such as design, simulation, manufacturing – with the help of 3D virtual environments.

Further, there is the application area of 3D simulation which allows for behavioral studies of objects in environments. Examples are traffic simulation in urban environments, or the analysis of panic scenarios in underground transportation for security optimization.

Applications in virtual learning, also called serious gaming, are used for service simulation and enable the use of products before they are physically available. Trainees are able to experience an environment which is not yet real, in a distant location or not readily accessible. Instead, trainees can visit the virtual copy.

As an example I’ll show an example for such a learning experience on an oil rig (built with 3DVIA) where the crew can be prepared for what awaits them there:

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3.) Dedicated Solutions

This may be neither surprising nor new – but generally good news:  there is no general “one size fits all” 3D solution to meet all objectives at once. With the increasing capabilities of today’s 3D applications there is an increasing focus on users: what they need, what they can handle, what they do not want.

It’s all about using 3D as a media. But applications are very different dependent on which industry segment is served, which are the application domains (ranging from engineering to marketing communication to artistic use) and last but not least who are the people who become users.  As people are vastly different there is a rich variety of solutions specializing on different uses of 3D. Clients need good guidance to find what is right for them.

Dassault Systèmes has been at Imagina 2011 as a platinum sponsor with our 3D solutions to support human-centered sustainable innovation and development. Some of our alliances partners were present too: AMD, ESI, Immersion, Noomeo, nVidia, Optis and Wacom.

P’tit bonbon for you: Trailer of the TRON legacy movie which was projected during the Wednesday evening party at Imagina. Unfortunately you’ll not have it in 3D (yet).

The original TRON dates from 28 years ago and presented this crazy idea of bringing a guy, via laser scan, into the virtual environment created by a “computer system”. At Imagina 2011 I could see that we are not so far away from making this a reality.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Best,
Michael

An Italian’s Take on French VR Cereal Gameplay

By Kate
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The following blogpost is by Matteo Mannuci, one of the lucky not-in-France recipients of a VR Chocapic cereal box.  Matteo is a practicing architect in Florence, Italy.  I’ve translated his French post to English, and the artwork and photos are his.  Molte grazie, Matteo!

10 p.m.:  Tonight I spent time with one of my best friends and adventure buddies, Luca Aluffi, who also wore his own famous 3D glasses, sent to us by Kate!

Once we cut out and assembled our glasses, we threw ourselves into the game.  My super MacBook Pro had a problem with the plug-in, but with a bit of patience everything worked fine on Windows.  Luca’s little computer beat my powerful MacBook.

The game was excellent!!!! Blam, zam, bling!  The game is so well made and fun, it hypnotized us.  We laughed like children; while the game is very fun to play, it’s also fun to watch Luca playing . . .  Ah! Ah! Ah !

We tried all the levels, and I like the second one the best!!  Thanks again Kate.  We’re ready for the next 3D adventure!

–Matteo

P.S.  Next time will you send us the cereal inside the box too ?  Ah! Ah! Ah ! :p

Immersive Virtual Reality and Visual Handicap

By Richard
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Last week, I attended an event at Telecom ParisTech, one of France’s top engineering schools. The event gathered about 30 experts in medicine and engineering for a set of conferences and debates dealing with Smart and  Communicating Devices for Health and Handicap.

Smart Devices can help in several health domains, from remote diagnosis to re-education. Being able to perform remote medecine can be useful in secluded spots such as high-mountain while re-education can take benefit from serious gaming applications.

On another hand, smart devices can help revive classic objects such as a white stick for visually impaired people. Just add an Infra Red scanner or a laser scanner and you get a Smart Electronic White Stick. Usually, you must touch the obstacle with the stick to be able to avoid it, and that way you’re unable to detect obstacles above the ground such as low tree branches. With such scanners and the help of a suitable sound or vibrating alert, visually impaired people can detect and avoid obstacles much sooner and in a much more fluent way. Demo videos are amazing, with people able to detect narrow corridors, the infamous low tree branches or a set of closed columns and avoid them peacefully, nearly as well as a person with unimpaired vision.

Talking about visual handicap and serious games lead me to an application shown on the Arts & Métiers ParisTech booth, another French top school of Engineers. The application, called Sensivise, has been produced thanks in part to our Passion for Innovation Program (hey! what else? ;-))  with 3DVIA Virtools. The goal is very simple: help valid people to understand the drag of visual impairment.

Tubular Vision simulation in the Sensivise application (urban environment)

Tubular Vision simulation in the Sensivise application (urban environment)

People get immersed in an urban or a familiar domestic 3D interactive environment. At first, you navigate with your regular, usual valid sight. Then, a visual impairment is simulated and you must adjust your behavior accordingly.

Today, two simulations are available: the central scotoma and the tubular vision (or tunnel vision, or gun barrel vision), but other ones could be added later.  The names and pictures say enough about each of those visual impairments. You have to make your way in the city with them, cross a street, avoid a car getting out of a car park etc. Back home, you have to go to the kitchen pick up a milk bottle while avoiding the low table in the living room or to have a shower without hitting the bath tub.

Central Scotoma simulation in Sensivise

Central Scotoma simulation in the Sensivise application (domestic environment)

The application shown on Arts & Métiers ParisTech was on a laptop and presents the user with several challenges such as the ones described above. Serious games to help valid people to get in visually impaired people’s shoes, understand their burden and ease life together. When you have gone through this application, maybe you won’t arrange your flat the same way if you happen to live with a visually impaired person.

Though effective on a laptop, Sensivise shows its full power only in its immersive version, as shown in our LIVES (Lifelike Immersive Virtual Experience Space) where you are really immersed in interactive 3D with suitable glasses.

I had several opportunities to show this application in that context, once to a person affected with central scotoma. She told me it was quite realistic, the only glitch being that valid people tend to try and look aside the central macula, which visually impaired people can’t do (the macula “turns” with the eyes). Since then, I always tell people not to do that, but this feedback accounts for the power and relevance of immersive virtual reality.

Sensivise immersive version as shown in DS Campus LIVES

Sensivise immersive version as shown in DS Campus LIVES

A last word: most applications presented at Télécom Paris Tech claimed they used “Virtual Reality”.  Nope.  A plain graphic serious game is not VR, even with nice computer art. Only 3D immersion can do the trick. There’s still a long road ahead, but applications such as Sensivise are showing the way.

Keep 3D-ing!

Regards,

Richard BreitnerRichard Breitner, Passion for Innovation Program Manager



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