Tools and Products
MAY/JUNE 2006 (Vol. 26, No. 3) pp. 94-96
0272-1716/06/$31.00 © 2006 IEEE

Published by the IEEE Computer Society
Tools and Products
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Hardware
Active Stereo Projection
Fakespace announced the release of the Beacon 8MP, an active stereoscopic projection system with 8.85-megapixel native resolution. The product's spatial detail is ideal for terascale data and image-critical research, such as scientific research, vehicle design reviews, and geophysical interpretation.
The hardware uses a shutter technology developed by Fakespace to produce active stereo image quality and high resolution without the need to tile multiple projectors of lesser resolutions. The projector contains two light engines that each display 4,096 × 2,160 resolution and 5,000 lumens of brightness. The electronic shutters placed in front of each light engine alternate on and off in rapid succession to generate separate left- and right-eye images. When the shutters are synchronized with electronic shutter glasses, images can be viewed in high-quality active stereo. This system reportedly eliminates the artifacts of projector blending and tiling for continuous detail across the entire projected image.
Fakespace also offers the 8.85-megapixel resolution in a polarized (passive) stereoscopic configuration, where lightweight paper or plastic glasses can be used. However, the Beacon technology reportedly creates advantages for applications where image quality is imperative. The alternate light engine shuttering presents just one image for each eye on the screen at one time. There isn't any possibility of crosstalk (ghosting), which can occur with polarized systems, where both left- and right-eye images are on the screen all the time.
For more information visit http://www.fakespace.com.




Fakespace's Beacon 8MP stereoscopic projection system (left) provides an 8.85-megapixel native resolution, which is ideal for visualization environments (right) that require extreme detail



Wide Screen and Extended Performance
CompAmerica released its Gemini laptop, a notebook that offers a dual core processor with Centrino mobile technology, a widescreen liquid crystal display (from 12.1 to 17 inches), and a long battery life. The product's CPU has a 2-Mbyte level-2 cache and also has Intel's newest 533/667-MHz front-side bus with dual-channel memory.
The Gemini comes with DVD playback and optional DVD-RW burning, along with an Intel wireless network adapter and a built-in 10/100/1000 gigabit, half/full duplex Ethernet card. It also has high-definition audio, an interchangeable optical drive bay, and a port replicator with a video interface.
Pricing for CompAmerica's Gemini laptops begins at $1,299. For more information visit http://www.compamerica.com.
Four-Processor Workstation for Cutting-Edge Content
Boxx launched its Apexx 4, a personal workstation specifically engineered for professionals working in the field of visual effects. The hardware comes with four dual-core AMD Opteron 800 series processors so that digital artists can work in real time on complex effects and detailed computer-generated objects. The system has 64 Gbytes of memory and is reportedly quiet enough to be comfortably positioned right next to the artist.
For more information visit http://www.boxxtech.com.
Imaging for Graphics, Video, and Radar
Curtiss-Wright announced the released of Sabre, reportedly the first single-slot high-performance 6U VME bus graphics and imaging platform to combine support for on-board radar scan conversion and video capture. The product is designed for defense and aerospace applications that require the display of intensive graphics and real-time video data.
The platform features dual graphics processors, dual-channel video capture, and dual-channel digital or analog video output. Sabre is powered by an IBM 750GX PowerPC processor and it supports digital video resolutions up to 1,900 × 1,280. The board supports its video processors with a total of 128 Mbytes of integrated video memory (64 Mbytes for each processor).
Video capture capabilities on the board include support for dual channels of TV and RGB at a resolution of up to 1,600 × 1,200. Each video source can be displayed in a window with optional graphics overlay or underlay. To optimize the board's graphics performance, video scaling—including position, size, and content of the video windows—is handled independently of the graphics processors. Graphics and video data are also processed independently to ensure no degradation of graphics performance during video scaling operations.
Because Sabre's X Server runs locally on the board, applications require no special-purpose graphics device driver. Software is available for receiving local area network-based radar, and allows a complete display control to be implemented on a single board.
Radar scan conversion is handled via an optional Ealge-S PMC mezzanine card-based radar scan converter. The Eagle-S processes radar video, accessed either via a network interface or through the addition of an optional Osprey radar acquisition PMC card. The radar video is scan-converted into one or more display windows in PPI or B-Scope formats.
For more information visit http://www.cwcembedded.com.
High-Performance Video
Zendex's ZXE-856 is a single-board computer specifically designed for high-performance video applications. The board includes adaptable VGA video ports with up to 1,600 × 1,200 resolution. Behind the video outputs are dual VGA outputs with up to 64 Mbytes of shared memory.
The product also comes with AC97 amplified stereo audio outputs, which can be directly connected to speakers, thereby saving the cost and complexity of external amplification. It supports a wide array of mass-storage devices and features two channels that support up to four ATA devices (such as hard drives) or four compact flash memory type-1 headers on the ATA bus.
The board can be configured to optimize speed, power consumption, or cost. The low-power Intel Celeron 4 processor option with Intel 855 chipset can be run at 60 MHz for less power consumption, lower temperature, and higher reliability. Typical power consumption at 600 MHz is reportedly less than 25 watts. Alternatively, the Intel Pentium 4 processor option will run at 2 GHz for greater performance. Other options are available to minimize system cost.
For more information visit http://www.zendex.com.
Chipset for New Broadband Standard
Beceem Communications announced the release of its MS120 chipset, which is designed to operate in challenging low-signal-to-noise environments. The product is reportedly the first terminal chipset implementing a feature set based entirely on the IEEE 802.16e Mobile WiMax standard. The product is available for mobile, portable, and fixed applications.
The product contains a digital baseband chip that includes the entire physical layer and media access control (MAC) functionalities. An embedded processor implements the MAC functionalities, thereby minimizing the processing load on the host processor.
It also contains an integrated radio chip designed for multiband operation with multiple transmit/receive chains, thereby minimizing cost, footprint, and power consumption. It comes with a reference design kit for the WiMax model, including host-driver software and radio chip calibration tools so that manufacturers can produce WiMax-compliant devices.
For more information visit http://www.beceem.com.
Software
Particle Emitter Libraries
Wondertouch released its particleIllusion Professional Emitter Libraries, a collection of 180 particleIllusion 3.0 emitters arranged into six themed libraries. Each of the six individual libraries—abstract, logos and text, artistic backgrounds, graphics and distortions, eclectic 01, and eclectic 02—contains 30 emitters that feature ready-to-use particle effects covering popular themes.
The Pro Emitter Libraries can be purchased individually or as a complete set for both the Windows and Mac platforms. Per the company, every emitter in the Professional Emitter Libraries is customizable and can be tweaked to create a slight variant, or turned into a completely new emitter.
The libraries are available for individual purchase for $39.00. The complete collection of six libraries is available for $175.00. The Professional Emitter Libraries are compatible only with Wondertouch particleIllusion 3.0. Visit http://www.wondertouch.com for more information.




Wondertouch's particleIllusion 3.0 main interface



Game Development Tool
Emergent Game Technologies announced Emergent Elements, a set of modular game-development tools that brings together stand-alone metrics, automation, and 3D graphics technologies into one framework. The first tools to be launched under the Emergent Elements brand include: the Gamebryo Element 3D graphics engine; Metrics Element tools for collecting, analyzing, and distributing game data; and Automation Element advanced tools for automating common development processes. Each element is available independently or as part of an integrated set of tools. Per the company, all Emergent Elements support development on the latest console and PC platforms, including the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Elements communicate information to the developer through a single dashboard with updated views and analysis of game information, intelligence, and data throughout the development lifecycle.
For more information, visit http://www.emergent.net.
Create 3D Models from Photographs
Plenoptics announced the availability of PhotoGenesis, a modeling plug-in to MultiGen Creator. This MultiGen-Paradigm toolset enables creation of object models, high-fidelity site-level terrain, and synthetic environments.
PhotoGenesis lets users build and texture 3D models using photos as source data. They can integrate their photographic assets into the real-time 3D content creation process.
Visit http://www.multigen-paradigm.com for more information.
Facial Animation for Films and Games
Avid subsidiary Softimage released its Face Robot software. The software lets professionals animate a digital human face in six steps, generating emotive expressions that replicate natural, organic movement of skin and soft tissue. The software works with all major 3D applications.
With Face Robot software, artists directly manipulate various anatomical features such as the mouth, eyebrows, and jaw. It offers built-in support for importing and exporting Autodesk 3ds max and Maya file formats. Other features include an integrated facial soft-tissue solver, direct manipulation of face controls, visual animation interface, and iterative performance refinement tools.
Face Robot Designer is available for $94,995. Designer includes tools to define wrinkles and puffing, place tendons, and fine-tune the mouth. The Animator version costs $14,995 and animates faces prepared using Designer. Animator is a hybrid environment for both keyframe animation and motion capture. It uses a retargeting algorithm that transfers animation and motion capture across faces and offers high-level tuning controls. Visit http://www.softimage.com for more information.




Softimage's Face Robot interface. Image courtesy of Avid Technology