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Issue No.06 - November/December (2009 vol.29)
pp: 96, c3
Published by the IEEE Computer Society
ABSTRACT
This article looks at new hardware and software products and tools related to computer graphics.
Hardware
Fast Desktop Scanning
ThreeRivers 3D offers standard and custom 3D scanners that let users generate 3D models from real-world objects. The company's LaserCode series scanners fit on a desktop or can be tripod mounted and can resolve submillimeter features over large scan areas.
Selectable field of view and system resolution match the scanner characteristics to the user's application. According to threeRivers 3D, an automated rotary turntable simplifies full 360-degree capture and streamlines model merging. An optional color texture capture enhances the appearance of scan data.
The LaserCode series scanners come in four sizes. The LC-1 is for desktop use and scans objects 12 inches in size. The LC-2 scans up to 24 inches, and the LC-C is a custom scanner that scans up to 40 inches. Total scan and postprocessing time to capture a view of an object is approximately 12 seconds. Acquiring a color texture adds an additional 4 seconds.
The LaserCode LC-1 runs on 32- and 64-bit Windows (XP and Vista), with support for Mac OS X planed in the near future. The scanners can be engineered for additional OSs, including 32- and 64-bit Linux. The scanner exports files in industry-standard formats, including .obj, .stl, and .ply.
For more information, visit www.3rivers3d.com.


The threeRivers 3D LaserCode scanner replicates everyday objects. (image courtesy of threeRivers 3D)

True 3D Stereoscopic Display
TDVision System's TDVisor connects to a standard PC and, using TDVision applications, provides 3D visualization of computer-generated content, such as video games, CAD visualizations, and 3D video streams.
The TDVisor provides an intraocular adjustment for a personalized fit. The optical design offers the equivalent of a 72-inch diagonal screen 10 feet from the viewer. The mechanical and ocular ergonomics provide the user with a more comfortable and realistic high-definition experience, according to TDVision Systems.
The company offers two models: a less expensive mid-resolution design (800 × 600 pixels) and a higher-end version (1,024 × 768 pixels or 1,280 × 720 pixels). Both weigh 5 ounces and provide portability, making them ideal for mobile imaging applications, says TDVision Systems.
For more information, visit www.tdvision.com.


The iray rendering technology helps simulate the physical behavior of real-world materials and light sources

Ultra-High-Resolution Visual Computing
According to Nvidia, its Quadro Plex visual computing platforms let users in fields such as energy exploration, architectural design, medical research, and consumer packaged goods run any software application across multiple ultra-high-resolution displays or projectors.
By connecting two Quadro Plex systems to a workstation, users can view images at a resolution of 36 Mpixels, span visuals across two 4K projectors or eight autosynchronized displays, and drive stereoscopic 3D content.
This cost-effective visual computing platform is designed to power a wide range of ultra-high-resolution and multichannel collaboration environments, ranging from interpretation desktops to visualization walls to network operations centers, claims Nvidia.
For more information, visit www.nvidia.com/svs.
Create Memorable Graphics and Animations
Exact Metrology's Artec3D Scanner requires no mounts or markers and is ideal for computer graphics and animation applications, says the company. The scanner is designed for a variety of scenarios and applications, including facial-expression acquisition, motion capture, and object scanning. It employs wide-field-of-view 3D and megapixel 2D sensors. Users can capture objects' shapes and surface textures in snapshot or video mode.
Complete systems, including hardware, software, and training, start under US$15,000. For more information, visit www.artec3Dscanner.com.
Speed Up 3D Model Creation
NextEngine's MultiDrive is a two-axis programmable positioning robot that lets the scanner create complete models of small objects. The first axis rotates 360 degrees; the second has an 80-degree tilt range to capture tops, bottoms, and anything in between.
Unlike with single-axis drives, users don't need to place pins. Instead, they set up a scan sequence by defining multiple families at different tilt orientations and then clicking to start the scan. Software runs the 3D scanner and MultiDrive and produces a fully aligned data set without human intervention, according to NextEngine. When scanning is complete, users can trim away unwanted data and then click "fuse" to produce a mesh model of the object.
The MultiDrive can support objects of up to two pounds. Using the scanner's macro mode, the system delivers 0.005-inch accuracy.
For more information, visit www.nextengine.com.
Software
Shaderlight Rendering Plug-in for 3ds Max
ArtVPS's Shaderlight 0.2 is a rendering plug-in for Autodesk 3ds Max and includes support for 3ds Max 2010. With Shaderlight 0.2, users can make interactive changes to key image attributes that would normally require restarting rendering from scratch, the company claims. Users can make materials, environments, lights, and textures (MELT) changes at any stage during rendering, even on high-resolution production images. The plug-in includes improvements to MELT change functionality and improved performance for the core progressive ray tracer. Shaderlight 0.2 also has improved progressive ray tracing of scenes containing glossy materials, providing faster image updates during non-MELT changes.
Shaderlight 0.2 costs US$75 for new customers. However, they will be able to upgrade to interim versions for free and will receive discounts on the purchase of Shaderlight 1.0, to be released at the end of 2009. For more information and to download Shaderlight 0.2, visit www.artvps.com.
Fast Photorealism for Design Professionals
Mental Images' iray is an interactive, ray-traced rendering technology included with the company's RealityServer 2.4 and mental ray 3.8. According to the company, iray technology exploits the GPU's parallel-processing power, enabling more convincing 3D visuals, greater levels of creativity, and faster decision-making. The technology speeds the creative process by enabling designers to accurately simulate their creations using materials and lighting that relate directly to the everyday physical world, Mental Images claims.
The rendering technology progressively refines an image, providing a single process that combines interactive previsualization and final frame rendering. It requires a small number of intuitive settings relating to the physical world, delivering a push-button rendering experience for creating final-frame photo-realistic images, the company says.
For more information, visit www.mentalimages.com.
3D Models from a Digital Camera
Strata Foto 3D CX 2 creates 3D models from photographs, letting users employ image sets taken from video or still images. According to Strata, the product is ideal for difficult-to-model objects such as organic shapes, soft forms, and handmade items.
Strata Foto 3D CX 2 now lets users employ images from a variety of sources, including aerial photographs, video frames, and pictures of objects too large to fit in a standard studio setting. Users can mark key features with "pins" in the software, while still placing smaller objects on a printed template for enhanced automation.
Strata Foto 3D exports standard file formats and connects to Strata Design 3D CX and other 3D packages. Users can import models into Strata Live 3D for interactive 3D display in a Web site, flash file, or PDF document, without using any plug-ins. The software includes an Adobe Photoshop plug-in integrating Foto 3D's model creation with Photoshop's image- and 3D-model-manipulation capabilities.
Selected CS articles and columns are also available for free at http://ComputingNow.computer.org.
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