Immersive 3D Reducing Burn Victims’ Pain

By Bernie
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It’s extremely gratifying to work for a company that helps so many people do so much good. And what could be more important than relieving the pain of a child who has suffered serious burns?

The University of Washington’s Dr. Hunter Hoffman, a virtual reality researcher, and Dr. Dave Patterson, a pain and hypnosis expert, set just that challenge for themselves when they began to research how to reduce pain without drugs. They hypothesized that if patients could let their minds go somewhere else while their wounds were cleaned and dressed, the distraction would significantly reduce the pain.

They developed the first iteration of the environment they call SnowWorld, a glacial land populated by virtual snowmen, penguins and mastodons, with funding from Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen and the National Institutes of Health. The original SnowWorld proved traditional video game technology could help, but Drs. Hoffman and Patterson thought a more immersive experience could help more. They decided to redevelop SnowWorld as a 3D Virtual Reality (VR) environment.


For help, they turned to University of Washington colleagues Howard Rose and Ari Hollander, founders of Firsthand Technology. Firsthand is a “serious games company” focused on developing medical training applications and treatment applications for maladies such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We rebuilt SnowWorld with 3DVIA Virtools from Dassault Systèmes to make it simpler to modify,” Hollander says. “The flexibility of 3DVIA Virtools allows SnowWorld’s creators to more easily test different experimental hypotheses and identify factors relevant to better pain control.”

The deeply immersive nature of SnowWorld built in 3DVIA Virtools improved the level of pain relief and made it easy for the University of Washington team to alter the scenario to test different hypotheses, Hoffman says.

“3DVIA Virtools is versatile enough to let us explore a variety of options without investing so much time and effort testing out an idea that we feel locked into keeping the change regardless of its usefulness,” Dr. Hoffman says. “Virtools has become an integral part of our research team’s success.”

Programming speed is another key advantage, allowing Firsthand’s clients to see their concepts evolve quickly. Realism, too, contributes to SnowWorld’s success.

“In the 3DVIA Virtools version of SnowWorld, the snowflakes are just incredible,” Dr. Hoffman says. “The magical 3D snowflakes help patients feel ‘there’ in SnowWorld, which leads to grater pain relief.”


Patients report that they perceive less pain when immersed in SnowWorld, allowing doctors to treat them with significantly lower levels of potentially addictive painkillers than previously possible. Best of all, MRI scans prove patients don’t just perceive less pain – in many cases, their brains actually experience 50 percent fewer pain messages than those same patients experience without SnowWorld.

It’s exciting to see the way doctors are using 3D immersive technologies such as 3DVIA Virtools to improve patient treatments. What other sorts of medical treatments can you imagine with the power of 3D?



Tom Dixon and Dassault Systèmes swYm Conference

By Kate
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Tom Dixon at swym conference

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”

– Blaise Pascal in Provincial Letters: Letter XVI

During this year’s Milan Furniture Fair, I got to meet Virtual Tom, aka designer Tom Dixon’s 3D twin. 

Today at Dassault Systèmes’ swYm conference (formally called Devcon), I got to meet the real person. 

While there are a few memorable geeky nuggets I’d like to dig down on in later posts, I’d like serve up a dosage of Tom-chat.  Sitting outside on the ivy-lined steps of DS Campus, Tom shared his thoughts on 3D and design, plus a glimmer of what he’d like to do for next year’s Milan fair.

“I like opposites, so juxtaposing what’s happening in 3D and online with something real is interesting.”  Tom

Tom’s goal is to make things simple, and “just because you can do lots of complex things with technology and design doesn’t mean that you should.” 

This reminded me of Oblong’s “you are the interface” and the ultimate goals to technology.  We shouldn’t feel the complexity in what’s happening with our 3D, VR or other techno; we should just be enjoying the experience without having to think about the how-to.  Much like we enjoy exquisite French meals.  If you get heady about it, the magic dies.  And if you get too complex in your recipes and presentation, you lose your Michelin star.  

But this is harder to accomplish than you may think.  You see this movement in the PLM space as Kurt Chen pointed out.  Users want simple interfaces and powerful results.  But I’m digressing. 


One of the projects you may see developing from our partnership with Tom Dixon is a design contest for SolidWorks users whereby the winning design would be fabricated live at next year’s Milan Furniture Fair.  Tom, I’m rooting for you on this one, and BTW, if my boss is reading this, how about a ticket to Milan for some live blogging?  ;-)

If you happen to be at swYm, like Tom you may enjoy playing with the “toys” as he called them available on our partner stands.  Think haptic VR.  Tom’s thinking about it in a design context.

Off to some afternoon sessions.  If you’re around, please ping me so I can say hi live.  Otherwise, anything particular you’d like me to cover during the conference? 



Your 3D Photo is Nothing New

By Kate
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I’m blogging from a hidden part of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the underground Giza Archives office.  Sitting around the table is a lot of Giza expertise and passion:  Peter Manuelian, Rus Gant, Jean-Pierre Houdin, two Egyptologist PhD students finishing their dissertations (Nick Picardo and Rachel Aronin), plus the Dassault Systèmes Giza 3D team (Karine, Emmanuel, Fabien, Pierre and Mehdi).  I wish you were here to eavesdrop on the conversation.  And pinch me.

We’ve been going nonstop since landing in Boston, so if I’m going to publish a post, it’s got to be during this meeting.  I may slip in some quotes in between this article so we don’t miss anything going on in parallel.


“So how many priests do you think were in the pyramid on the funeral day?” Peter

Ok I’m going to try to double dip the meeting and blog about today’s topic:  3D Photography.

This morning we went to Harvard’s geology department facilities to test some pretty special content on their immersive curved stereoscopic screen.  Three-dimensional photos of the Giza plateau may not seem exotic to you.  But what if I told you they are photos that were taken over 100 years ago!  In 3D.  Over 100 years ago!

Rus, who has been practicing 3D photography since the 1950s, explained to us that the history of 3D photography began in the 1840s, only a few months after the invention of 2D photography.  The concept of three-dimensional images precedes the invention of 3D photography by 30 years during Napoleon’s time. 

So you think you’re cutting edge with your new 3D camera or TV?  NOT!

What drove the 3D photography industry back in the day was what Rus called Parlor Tourism.  Imagine you’re a wealthy society lady and have the opportunity to invite your tea time buddies over for a special 3D photography viewing of The Great Pyramids.  Oh my, how exotic, Evelyn! 

stereo camera

 Between the years 1840 and 1910, MILLIONS of these 3D photos were taken.  Rus, who’s in charge of the The Giza Archives Project’s visualization and technological elements, is starting by looking through a mere thousand.  And this morning we saw his top picks.

What makes a top pick and why is this relevant to Giza 3D?  Giza changes all the time.  There are many mysteries that remain to be solved.  And clues from the past, whether they are the position of rocks, or passage ways that have since been covered by modern construction, are new elements to the Giza puzzle. 

Now imagine going to Giza and taking the same 1840-1910 three-dimensional photographs . . . from the exact same places and angles.  And then imagine merging the old with the new so you can see the evolution in an artistic historic mash-up. 

I won’t go on because there’s a lot more to say.  Stay tuned for another episode soon.  

“There is something very strange also.” Jean-Pierre Houdin

I will say that I’m now ready to go back to school.  Yah think Hahvahd would accept me?  Egypt is calling . . .



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