Sunlight on Imagina 2011

By Michael

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.


3 Ways to Visualize Hierarchical Structures

By Oleg

I’m always thinking about alternative ways to present information to PLM software users. I think one of PLM’s challenges is to be able to present complex data in a simple way. Using 3D is one of the possibilities to reduce the complexity of data representations and visualize it for users. Hierarchical data is everywhere in PLM – product structure, bill of materials, drawing. Today, I’d like to show three possible ways to visualize hierarchical data to make it more presentable to a user.

Tree Map

A tree map is a visualization of hierarchical structures. This type of visualization is very efficient in a space constraint situation. The best you can do with such a visualization is to show attributes of leaf nodes in trees with appropriated color-coding and size. You can read more about this type of visualization on IBM’s Many Eyes project and here on 3D Perspectives. On the picture below you can see an example of a tree map visualization related to car fuel consumption. You can change the order, color code and sizing. This is, of course, depends on a specific implementation.

Botanical Tree

Here’s another interesting approach o visualizing huge structures. You can take a look at this research for more information. I found it very interesting. The authors are proposing models for tree organizing and visualization. I found this 3D visualization approach as something promising when we face a huge structure of information we want to discover. On the below image you can see the visualization of a Unix Directory using this method presented in this work.

Timeline Tree

This type of visualization, in my view, is an efficient way to combine hierarchical structure and time-related information. In many situations in product development, this is an interesting case. So, you can download and take a look at this research. I can imagine many situations when such visualization can be very useful (i.e. to present product structure with the relevant maintenance schedule and many others).

I’m sure there are many additional ways to visualize hierarchical data. I’m looking forward to your comments and discussing this.

Best, Oleg

Social Networks and Visualization

By Oleg

Despite summer relaxing time, I’m continuing to explore different dimensions of information visualization on 3D Perspectives. Social networks became a hot topic for the last few months or years and thought they can provide very interesting source of information to be presented in visual form. I decided to find a tool, I can use easy and in comfortable environment. So far, I found it…

Everybody likes Excel, right? So, let me show what is possible to visualize a social network using NodeXL (project developed by Microsoft Research). This application, so called .NetMap, can be used for viewing and analyzing of network graphs. Data can be prepared in Excel or imported from any applications. Use this link to download detailed presentation of NodeXL. You can download NodeXL code from Codeplex.

Sample images generated with NodeXL.

You can ask me, if I see any connection to word of Product Lifecycle Management? Yes, I do. The power to visualize and graphically represent information, solutions, ideas in multiple dimensions, as well as manipulate and collaborate with others is the next big revolution in technology. Since PLM is making social turn and focus on people, I think visualization of social communication together with 3D product visualization can provide very powerful turn in development efficient 3D Social Network Collaboration Tools.

Best, Oleg.

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Beyond PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), Dassault Systèmes, the 3D Experience Company, provides business and people with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations. 3DSWYM, 3D VIA, CATIA, DELMIA, ENOVIA, EXALEAD, NETVIBES, SIMULIA and SOLIDWORKS are registered trademarks of Dassault Systèmes or its subsidiaries in the US and/or other countries.