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Tools and Products

Pages: pp. 84-86


Spherical Digital Video Camera

Point Grey Research released the Ladybug2, an improved version of its spherical digital video camera that has a maximum frame rate of 30 frames per second and doesn't require a storage unit to capture video. The camera comes with embedded JPEG compression and an 800-Mbit per second IEEE-1394b interface. It covers approximately 75 percent of a full sphere and 3,800 pixels cover the horizontal circumference.

The head unit is precalibrated to enable high-quality spherical image stitching. The camera is designed and manufactured to retain its calibration under normal usage. The calibration information is stored on the camera and can be retrieved by the PC. The lens settings (such as focus and iris) are fixed to ensure that the camera stays calibrated.

The product comes with a software development kit designed to control the camera settings, acquire images, and produce spherical and panoramic images. The kit comes with numerous example programs in source code and has an OpenGL computer graphics library where it texture maps the inside of an OpenGL sphere for rendering. Rendering options include a virtual camera view from the inside of the sphere or a panoramic rendering of the sphere.

Graphic: Point Grey Research's Ladybug2 spherical digital video camera

Figure    Point Grey Research's Ladybug2 spherical digital video camera

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Instant TV for Notebooks

ADS Tech announced the release of its Instant TV for Notebooks. The product is a card that slides into the cardbus slot of a WinXP notebook. A user can use this in conjunction with an antenna cable and reportedly watch TV shows immediately, time-shift record, and copy shows to CD or DVD for later viewing. The product comes with an infrared remote control for changing channels or setting up program recording.

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First LED-Backlit LCD Desktop Display

NEC Display Solutions' SpectraView monitor is reportedly the first LED-backlit LCD desktop display, which features SpectraView color calibration. This calibration option helps users achieve accurate, consistent, and repeatable color performance. The product comes in a bundled package, which includes a flat-screen monitor, calibrator, re-attachable hood, software, and a converter cable. It uses 24-bit analog-to-digital converters to measure color at absolute white or black at five measurements per second. Digital color adjustments are made within the monitor electronics rather than in the video card lookup tables to maximize accuracy, speed, frequency, and ease. The system assists in matching colors from monitor to monitor as well as to peripheral devices.

Graphic: NEC Display Solutions' SpectraView monitor

Figure    NEC Display Solutions' SpectraView monitor

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Scans Any Object

Konica Minolta's Vivid 9i noncontact 3D digitizer provides high-speed, high-accuracy 3D measurement of dies, casts, and forged products, as well as stamped and plastic-molded products. The 9i helps with shape evaluation, tool and die qualification, and quality inspection during prototype creation and production processes. The 9i can also capture the shape and dimensional data of design models and prototypes in design drawings for reverse engineering.

When used for reverse engineering, the Vivid 9i accurately converts the shape of a product into 3D digital data. Using the Vivid 9i for inspection contributes to the early detection of shape problems, provides rapid feedback on design, and eliminates unnecessary work in downstream processes.

Graphic: Konica Minolta's Vivid 9i 3D digitizer

Figure    Konica Minolta's Vivid 9i 3D digitizer

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Interactive Linux Visualization System

The Silicon Graphics Prism family is the first visualization system that's interactive with Linux. Reportedly, this capability will help it offer unprecedented detail in visualizing medical conditions. Other abilities noted by the manufacturer include the product achieving six-sigma quality by enabling domain experts to work collaboratively, not sequentially, and extracting currently unrecoverable petroleum assets through better understanding and management of existing fields

The hardware lets users work with all their data, all the time, at terabyte data sizes, as well as working at 100-Mbyte pixel resolutions. The system can also interactively visualize polygon models that are in the billions.

Graphic: The Silicon Graphics Prism family

Figure    The Silicon Graphics Prism family

Pricing for the system begins at $8,500. For more information visit


Models, Paints, and Renders

Luxology announced the release of modo 201, an upgrade to its modeling product that now also includes painting and rendering technologies. The software is reportedly backed by a cutting-edge toolset, advanced software ergonomics, and a streamlined learning path that make it the fastest, most advanced subdivision surface modeling environment available.

The product is specifically designed to help 3D artists working on games, films, TV, print, architecture, and Web productions. New features in modo 201 include improved modeling technology, so that users can optimize complex meshes with true mash instancing; ultraviolet map creation and mesh paint capabilities for painting geometric details on existing mesh surfaces; integrated painting tools with hot-swappable brushes, inks, nozzles, and falloffs; parametric ink, real-time bump-map painting, and masking methods; accelerated rendering with optimized global illumination, physically based shading options for energy conservation, anisotropy and subsurface scattering, and true micropolygon displacements and gigapoly rendering.

Graphic: Image created with Luxology's modo201

Figure    Image created with Luxology's modo201

The software ships on a single disc supporting both Mac OS X and Windows platforms. For more information visit

Use Sense of Touch to Create Shapes

Sensable Technologies released version 1.0 of the ClayTools system for Rhino. The product lets designers use their sense of touch to quickly create organic shapes and add sculptural details, handcrafted modifications, complex blends, and embossed textures to existing Rhino Nurbs models.

The system uses a virtual clay metaphor that removes the constraints of technical modeling and lets designers model virtual clay just like real clay. The system includes the Phantom Omni device, which is a 3D interface with force feedback. With the software, the user can create multiple versions, duplicate handcrafted modifications, and create and use a library of parts.

The product is complementary to Rhino software. Designers can create models using their favorite tools in Rhino, and then import their models into the ClayTools system. Imported Rhino models can be used as references or converted to virtual clay—either in total or selected parts. Using the Phantom Omni device, designers can feel the virtual clay to smudge, smooth, carve, and tug to add details, blends, and textures that are challenging to achieve with traditional modeling tools.

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Cinema-Quality Maps

SoftImage|XSI 5.0 is the latest version of Avid's 3D animation software. The upgrade includes new tools, including a map generation tool for producing cinema-quality maps in a few clicks, a property transfer system for merging fully textured and animated 3D models, and a native 64-bit configuration. This configuration helps users model, animate, and render more complex scenes in their entirety with billions of polygons and layers of 3D, film, and video content.

New features for the upgrade are native XSI hair with a grooming tool that gives the artist more creative control for styling the hair realistically, advanced cloth simulation using Syflex 3, precise actual-shape collision handling, and easier export and import with full source code. Additional benefits include advanced character tools, such as unique character rigs that are reportedly easy to create and customize; and streamlining the process for making modeling, texturing, and rigging changes to characters without reconstructing bones, bone weights, or shape animation. The upgrade also includes a comprehensive set of migration tools for Maya users, such as a customizable interface with a new menu, keyboard, and mouse navigation properties.

Graphic: Screen shot of Avid's SoftImage 5.0 3D animation software (Image courtesy of SoftImage and Avid)

Figure    Screen shot of Avid's SoftImage 5.0 3D animation software (Image courtesy of SoftImage and Avid)

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Hybrid Modeling Platform

Npower Software announced the release of PowerNurbs 1.0. The software is a hybrid modeling platform that combines high-end surface modeling with high-end solids modeling for animating and rendering in Autodesk's 3ds max.

The software is based on Integrityware's Solids ++ Kernel, which contains surfacing, analysis, and tessellation technology. Some of the features include solid modeling tools like Booleans, shelling, and variable radius filleting. It also provides surface modeling tools like high-continuity blending, multirail sweeps, and high-continuity class-A surfaces.

Graphic: Images created with Npower Software's PowerNurbs 1.0

Figure    Images created with Npower Software's PowerNurbs 1.0

For more information visit

Recent Books of Interest

One or more members of our editorial board found the following books to be of interest to our readership:

  • Computer-Graphic Facial Reconstruction, John G. Clement (Univ. of Melbourne, Australia) and Murray K. Marks (Univ. of Tennessee), Academic Press.
  • Physics-Based Animation, Kenny Erleben, Jon Sporring, Knud Henriksen, and Henrik Dohlman (Univ. of Copenhagen, Denmark), Charles River Media.

Open Standards

The following standards are of interest to our community:

  • Collaborative Design Activity (Collada) is a new Khronos open standard initiated by Sony Computer Entertainment for 3D authoring. The standard defines an XML-based schema to enable 3D authoring applications to freely exchange digital assets without loss of information. This helps combine multiple software packages into powerful tool chains. Numerous companies have supported and helped develop Collada—including 3Dlabs, Alias, Aegia, Autodesk, ATI, Havok, Nvidia, and SoftImage. For more information visit
  • OpenGL ES 2.0 is a standard that will help with ATI's Imageon 3D handheld technology by providing programmable shaders. ATI is working with other developers to maximize the functionality of its hardware with this new application programming interface. The standard is helpful because it leverages the graphics processor so that developers can have the flexibility of programming their own shaders to create the kinds of effects that until now a user could only experience on a PC. For more information visit
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