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2004 continued the hardware trend of more performance for lower prices. The economy continued to improve and innovative products continued to come to market. Some of the more significant hardware products included new Macintosh workstations, 3D hard copy printing and imaging systems, unique paperboard computers, commercial self-service animation render farms and one especially close to my heart (since I'm a southpaw) a keyboard for lefties.
Apple's iMac G5 contains a G5 processor and a new design that integrates the computer into a 2-inch-deep flat panel display (available as 17- or 20-inch screens). For more information visit http://www.apple.com/imac.
Cypak's disposable computer integrates microelectronics and printable sensors into paperboard. The paperboard computer can collect, process, and exchange several pages of encrypted data. For more information visit http://www.cypak.com.
This year FrogPad released its left-handed version of the company's one-handed keyboard. The FrogPad keyboard is one-fifth the size of a traditional keyboard and is designed around the 15 most-frequently-used letters in the Roman alphabet. For more information visit http://www.frogpad.com.
Respower gives users access to their render farm collection of 250 computers that work together to turn 3D wireframe scenes into full-colored image sequences. For more information visit http://www.respower.com.
Volugraphics' 3D hard copy lenticular printing and imaging system generates high-resolution autostereoscopic 3D and animated prints and transparencies (called Volugrams). The system can produce Volugrams with images from 3D data sets, stereopairs, or 3D photographic images. For more information visit http://www.volugraphics.com.
In addition to the traditionally strongly represented design, modeling, and animation tools, I chose some new products that reflect the significance of computer graphics in the recently established area of homeland security, whether for interoperability, data visualization, or training and simulation. There's definitely a lot more to come.
ART VPS released its RenderPipe Max interface for Discreet 3ds max version 6. The RenderPipe interfaces are software plug-ins for the Pure and RenderDrive visualization applications. For more information visit http://www.artvps.com.
The gaming engine by 3Impact is royalty free, supports accurate collision detection and response, constraints, springs, volumetric shadows, particle systems, true mirror surfaces, 3D sounds, and multiple other features. For more information visit http://www.3impact.com/.
FotoG by Vexcel is the Catia version of its close-range photogrammetry system. The software lets users create 3D CAD models and extract precise measurements from film or digital photography and video. By adding the Catia interface, the software can now develop 3D "as built" CAD models of existing facilities. For more information visit http://www.vexcel.com.
Virtock Technologies' Vizx3D 1.0 is a low-cost real-time 3D visualization tool and Web 3D authoring platform. It creates content according to the new Extensible 3D (X3D) standard for 3D graphics. In tandem with this release, Media Machines also released Flux version 1.1, its platform for developing high-performance, real-time, network-aware, 3D rich content. For more information visit http://www.virtock.com or http://www.vizx3d.com.
Virtools Dev is an authoring software for creating interactive 3D applications. Key components of the product include an interface that lets users visually assemble objects and behaviors, the behavior engine to run interactive applications, and the render engine to render graphics in real time. For more information visit http://www.virtools.com.