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Issue No.03 - May/June (2000 vol.20)
pp: 97-99
Published by the IEEE Computer Society
Hardware
Rendering system for studio production
Boxx Technologies is shipping its RenderBoxx 4000, a Windows NT and Linux rendering system with single or dual Intel 800-MHz Pentium III Coppermine processors.
Suited for film, video, digital content creation, and game development, the 2U (3.5-inch) rackmount system is available in configurations ranging from one to hundreds of nodes. RenderBoxx, an open rendering system, reportedly doesn't require special material libraries or plug-ins to reduce rendering times or enhance performance.
The system's pricing begins at $2,365 for a single unit. For more information visit http://www.boxxtech.com.
Touch screen with antibacterial protection
MicroTouch Systems' released an updated version of its touch-enabled iMac, the TouchStation.
The TouchStation is based on Apple's iMac DV with a 400-MHz PowerPC G3 processor and comes equipped with an integrated ClearTek 3000 capacitive touch screen. It features the CleanScreen, a touch screen that incorporates antibacterial technology. Features include 64 Mbytes of SDRAM, a 10-Gbyte hard-disk drive, a 24x CD-ROM drive or slot-loading 4x-speed DVD-ROM drive, a built-in 56-Kbyte modem, a 10/100Base-Tx Ethernet, an AirPort wireless networking slot, two built-in 12-Mbps USB ports, two 6-pin FireWire ports, and the Mac operating system.
The TouchStation costs $2,085. For more information visit http://www.microtouch.com.
Wide-area 3D motion tracker
InterSense is shipping its IS-900 Virtual Environment Tracker (VET) and Virtual Workbench Tracker (VWT).
The IS-900 architecture uses the company's SensorFusion software to provide inertial and ultrasonic tracking technology. The VET and VWT offer wide-area, multipoint tracking for immersive and virtual environments. The VET is a full 3D volume tracker for immersive display systems, such as CAVE and RecTor. It provides six degrees of freedom tracking for head, hand, and wand. Users employ stereo glasses and a stylus.
The VWT is an immersive table tracking system for workbench displays. VWT lets users move and manipulate images projected on the workbench screen by tracking both head and hand movements.
For more information visit http://www.isense.com.
Linux 3D for the desktop
Evans and Sutherland's Lightning 1200LX board delivers OpenGL graphics features to Linux. The board also supports design and visualization applications for Linux, including Side Effects Software's Houdini 4.0 and Engineering Animation's WorldToolKit 9.0.
Based on E&S's RealImage technology, the Lightning 1200LX offers 24-bit Z buffering, MIP-mapped texturing, antialiased lines, transparency, fog, and overlay planes. It provides resolutions up to 1,280 × 1,024 at true color, with performance rates up to 4 million triangles per second and a sustained fill rate of 90 Mpixels per second.
The Lightning 1200LX costs $489. Current E&S Lighting 1200 customers can upgrade for $100. For more information visit http://www.es.com.
Real-time output of rendered animations
Intergraph Computer Systems said its RAX HD animation recorder enables real-time conversion of rendered animations into multiple high-definition formats.
The RAX HD comes with both hardware and software and is based on the company's Wahoo technology. Users can review and output in real time, work in various resolutions and output to multiple high-definition formats at any frame rate, replace bad frames without reconstructing entire clips, and upgrade hardware via software for future resolutions and frame rates.
The recorder costs $150,000. For more information visit http://www.intergraph.com/ics.
Workstations offer graphics options
Intergraph Computer Systems' Zx 10 Vizual Workstations come equipped with Wahoo technology and are powered by Intel Pentium III 750-MHz frontside bus processors.
The Zx 10s deliver enhanced systems throughput and offer a choice of graphics subsystems for applications ranging from high-end 2D to fast 3D. The Windows NT-based workstations feature single or dual processors; 8-Gbyte PC133 or PC100 ECC SDRAM memory capacity; a 128-bit memory bus; all wide, dual-independent 64-bit PCI buses; an AGP Pro 50 port; Intense3D's Wildcat 4110 VIO 3D graphics; and an upgraded Ultra-tower chassis.
Prices for the workstations start at $3,995. For more information visit http://www.intergraph.com/ics.
Digital Camera Offers Tough Exterior
Fuji Photo Film's DS-260 digital camera provides a dust-proof, impact- and water-resistant outer shell.


Figure 1. FujiFilm's DS-260 Digital Camera

Features include a 1.5-million-pixel CCD with RGB filters, 3x optical zoom, and a Fujinon EBC glass lens. Resolution is up to 1,280 × 1,024. It offers a digital gamma correction system to help retain image color and smooth gradation of the original subject. The camera's auto-sensing flash technology adjusts flash output to lighting conditions. Image capture options include macro auto focus, manual exposure, selectable white balances, and black and white capture.
An 8-Mbyte SmartMedia storage card comes bundled with the camera. Images are saved in JPEG format with three file compression levels—fine, normal, and basic, in which 12, 23, and 46 images, respectively, can be stored. The camera comes with a rechargeable lithium ion battery and Adobe PhotoDeluxe 3.0 Home Edition editing software.
The camera costs $1,199. For more information visit http://www.fujifilm.com.
Reconfigurable image processing module
VisiCom's V-Module is an embedded image-processing card that exploits Field Programmable Gate Array and design automation technology. This provides reconfiguration capabilities and ASIC-like performance.
The card's architecture provides capabilities such as color-space conversion, convolution, and affine transformation (rotation, translation, and zoom) in real time. The system operates on component video at full-resolution luminance and chrominance for high video quality. The FPGA circuit can be updated without removing the system from service or shutting it down.
For more information visit http://www.visicom.com.
Software
Real-time 3D authoring and delivery
Alias|Wavefront's Maya Real-Time Software Developers Kit (SDK) helps create interactive content on next-generation game platforms.
Based on Maya's Dependency Graph 3D graphics architecture, the SDK lets game artists and programmers work in one unified production pipeline. Visual effect development elements include geometry and animation, character behavior and deformations, particle effects, collisions and dynamics, lighting, texturing, and shading. The SDK also provides a flexible architecture with a node-based scene graph that initially mirrors that of exported Maya software artwork. Programmers can extend the graph to incorporate game play, artificial intelligence, sound, and custom nodes or specialty solvers. The elements are implemented in device-specific code for all targeted platforms—initially PlayStation2 and OpenGL graphics processing units.
Multititle source-code site licenses start at $200,000 for the OpenGL base system. The PlayStation2 option costs an additional $150,000. For more information visit http://www.aliaswavefront.com.
Cross-platform game development
Numerical Design is offering an upgraded NetImmerse 3D game engine that supports PC, PlayStation2, and Mac OS platforms.
NetImmerse 3.0 features curved surfaces, skinning, and continuous level of detail. A software rendering feature helps improve performance on low-end PCs. PlayStation2 developers can use the engine's pipeline to take advantage of vector processors, the graphics synthesizer, the direct memory access controller, and other capabilities. For Mac developers, the software is Carbon-compliant, includes AltiVec enhancements, and will run natively on Mac OS.
NetImmerse features enable development of games from any player perspective, including first person, third person, and multiplayer Internet games.
For more information visit http://www.ndl.com.
Enhanced technical drawing tool
Autodesk's Actrix Technical 2000 for technical drawing and diagramming provides an automated drawing environment. Technical and nontechnical users can create diagrams, schematics, and layouts.
The software aids design and management of facilities, electrical, and telecom systems, and acts as a tool for concept visualization. Actrix Technical can open and save AutoCAD drawings. This version offers enhanced DWG background display fidelity, including support for xrefs, paper-space layouts, ObjectDBX object enablers, and raster objects. Also included are more than 4,000 ActiveShapes objects for network, workflow, and Unified Modeling Language diagramming.
Actrix Technical 2000 costs $349. Current Actrix Technical users can upgrade for $99. For more information visit http://www.autodesk.com/purchase.
Satellite data support
PCI Geomantics announced its support for data acquired from the LandSat 7 satellite with OrthoEngine 6.3 (digital photogrammetry) software suite and ImageWorks 6.3.
OrthoEngine 6.3 provides streamlined orthorectification, 3D feature extraction, digital elevation model extraction, triangulation, and automatic mosaicing. Version 6.3 is available for Windows 95, 98, and NT; Unix; and Linux. ImageWorks 6.3 is a component of OCI Geomatics EASI/PACE remote sensing software.
Landsat 7 support is available on PC, Sun Solaris, and SGI operating systems. For more information visit http://www.pcigeomatics.com.
Graphics for Linux
Xi Graphics announced their Web-based graphics hardware drivers for Linux. The 3D Linux drivers are OpenGL 1.1.1 compliant and support libGLU and libGL.
Prices start at $29. They are available for download at http://www.xig.com.
Enhanced GUI for visualization
Computational Engineering International is shipping its EnSight 7 visualization tool.
The software features a revamped graphical user interface and can simultaneously visualize multiple models. The software is suited for analyzing, visualizing, and communicating computer-aided engineering and scientific research results. Interface enhancements include added functionality, increased window size, desktop hotkeys, pop-up help balloons, improved icons, and the elimination of scrolling. A fast-display toggle lets users manipulate between large-scale models in real time and standard views.
For more information visit http://www.ceintl.com.
Enhanced data interoperability
Unigraphics Solutions' PS/Bodyshop detects and corrects defects in imported geometric models. The application is a companion product to the company's Parasolid, a kernel solid-modeling product.
In combination with PS/Bodyshop, Parasolid leverages two complementary technologies to help minimize data-exchange inaccuracies. Healing repairs imported models by adjusting their geometry to Parasolid's default precision based on available topological information. When imported data cannot be healed, tolerant modeling enables interpretation using lower precision than the originating modeling software. PS/Bodyshop can detect and repair geometric anamolies such as zero length curves, coincident curves, gaps, and spikes. The software provides curve-fitting functionality to smooth out or simplify irregular data and can replace geometric representations with a simpler form where appropriate.
For more information visit http://www.ugsolutions.com.
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