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  • Thu 28 Aug 2008

    China, here I come (2008 Edition)

    Published at 9:43   Category Perso  

    Since I really enjoyed my trip in the north of China last year, I’m leaving tomorrow for Shanghai and I’ll spend some time in the south of China for a good visiting trip. If you’re in Shanghai or Hong-Kong maybe we can chat over tea!

    If you need to clear your head, check out last year’s pictures.

    In the meantime, don’t make any war and have fun!

    Thu 28 Aug 2008

    Miele creates everyday objects with its CAVE

    Published at 9:25   Category VR Applications  

    Miele, a german “manufacturer and supplier of washing machines, ovens, vacuum cleaners, and refrigerators”, is now using a CAVE to design and prototype some of its products. This article from Gizmag has a story about it :

    By means of a cluster of nine high-performance processors, this allows for real time adjustment of the image detail and the image perspective to the user’s position. The 6.7 million pixels of the images are recalculated up to 30 times per second. Products and processes not yet existing in reality can thus be visualised, complex situations can be experienced intuitively and better comprehended. (…)

    “The number of expensive, physical models and prototypes can be radically reduced by CAVE, and this ultimately saves a lot of time and money”, says Andreas Enslin, Miele’s senior designer. “Furthermore, the development process is significantly accelerated. After all, as designers, we are working in 3-D anyway. The new technology enables us to immediately discuss the different proposals and ideas with our colleagues from Engineering or Marketing and try things out.”  (…)

    The Miele CAVE system cost the company around 1.6 million Euros and uses eight high-resolution cinema projectors with a luminance of approx. 7,000 ANSI lumen for each project perspective, polarised semi-images from behind to a huge, 15 metre projection screen of black glass. The screen is split into three sections and suspended at an angle of 120 degrees so that no distortion results by the deformation of the glass due to its own weight. Four head tracking cameras keep track of the viewer’s movements and transmit this information to a processor cluster of nine work stations. (…)

    While the product development and design cycle has so far been a long sequence of design decisions and corrective actions, a whole package of decisions can now be processed efficiently says Enslin: “CAVE creates a quite different form of communication and cooperation. Marketers, designers and engineers can now deal with one issue simultaneously. Regardless of what comes up with me as a designer or engineer, I am able to immediately try it and see if it works. As everyone is seeing the same thing, those people who are not directly involved in the process of development and construction can also immediately see the consequences and effects of decisions.“

    This is accomplished to the extent that the Miele devices in the future will also be tested for their serviceability: You can take, for example, a virtual tool and see whether e.g. the required screws can be accessed. Defects can be correspondingly corrected directly at the computer.

    The speed gained is also expected to increase the willingness to experiment, Miele’s senior designer believes. “In this respect, our innovative strength will also increase. It has become much easier to try out something crazy in between.” Basically, of course, the standard remains that the Miele design has to express the premium character of the products. Andreas Enslin: “Our good reputation is essentially determined by our design. This has always been so and will remain this way. We are simply improving now.”

    Although it’s not technically a cave (there should at least be a floor), it’s certainly nice to see that VR is spreading steadily into new business areas.

    Wed 27 Aug 2008

    VisionaiR 3D : Interview

    Published at 11:15   Category VR Applications, VR Displays  

    VisonaiR 3D is a company from the Netherlands, founded by Maarten van Grinsven in 2000.

    Their goal ?

    “From the start of forming my company I had the goal to bring VR  to the general public (instead of Universities, oil & gas, military) and in reach of “normal” businesses like real-estate agents, project developers and marketing companies.”

    Yeah, “VR For All” as we like it here =)

    Panoramic view of the VisionaiR 360°

    Their latest product is the VisionaiR 360°, a cheap Cave-like system without any tracking. Check the video to get the idea.

    YouTube Preview Image

    “The VisionaiR 360 was designed for users that have little to no experience with VR, this way anyone can use it.

    The VisionaiR360 is a turn key system; the software is designed specially for the hardware and requires no knowledge from the user to start or operate, other than selecting a virtual reality presentation from a menu. The 360 degree system has many practical advantages over desktopVR :
    - Easy navigation, (just turn around the table and move the joystick the direction you want to go.) No additional explanation needed
    - Keep your orientation during a presentation
    - Feel immersed, it’s like you are really there! “

    Maarten was kind enough to answer some questions :

    - What’s the price range of this product ?

    I don’t have a sale price at the moment, But I’m working on it. I will know more about this in about a week or 2. We are trying to make it cheap enough to bring cave systems in reach of a whole new market. Renting price will be around 150 euro a day (with a minimum renting time for 4 months). At the moment it will only be avalible for rent in the Benelux and germany. Sales worldwide.

    - How much time does it need to be  setup ?

    It will take us 2 days to setup the system, and we will need a room that’s 4×4 meters and 2.30 meter high.

    - What kind of software are you using ?

     The software we use is Quest3D and we develop our own applications for the VisionaiR360 to deliver a turn key solution to our customers. We develop the
    VR applications in combination with architectuurproducties which is a Dutch company specialised in making 3d models.

    - Do you plan to have it evolve, with stereoscopic displays and 3d trackers?

    Yes there is room for a lot of improvement. but keep in mind that this system was created specially for people that have no experience with VR and
    that we use our VR a lot for product presentation in the sales sector (usually we try to sell houses that still have to be built). Too much
    immersion is sometimes too much.

    I have a lot of experience with VR systems. And I know that Stereoscopic images and headtracking can be “stressful” for the inexperienced user. The
    fact that this system doesn’t use a tracking system makes it less bound to a single user experience. when seated down people will automatically be in or
    near the “sweet spot”. The system is still impressive but not overwhelming for the user.
    But don’t get me wrong, there will be a HD version and a stereoscopic version coming at a later time.

    - From the video it seems the calibration is a bit loose on the seams, can you improve on that?

    Calibration is loose but this will improve as soon as we will use software to extra calibrate the projectors. you could also  loose all the distortions
    if you would have a 6×6 meters wide room and use different projectors, making HD and stereoscopic a possibility. I will leak more info about these
    systems when they will become available.

    - How did your company start?

    Wow now that’s a big one.
    Well in 1998 I dropped out of school when I was 19 years old to start  working for a game development company in Belgium called Larian Studio’s. I was using shutterglasses and the Iglasses HMD as a hobby then. Then QuakeIIIArena came out and I thought computer graphics where ready for realistic VR.  In the year 2000 I started my own company called VisionaiR 3D.

    I sold Stereoscopic projection systems to the university of Leuven (Belgium) and the university of Zürich (Switzerland). From the start of forming my company I had the goal to bring VR  to the general public (instead of universities, oil & gas , military) and in reach of “normal” businesses like real-estate agents, project developers and marketing company’s.

    To do this successfully I knew I had to deliver a complete system of both software and hardware combined with the presentation of the VR software itself. I created a transportable 3D projection system and toured around the country for a couple of years (actually I still do this). At the moment I’m even selling 3D projection systems to real-estate agents, they use VR on a
    daily basis.

    Our software usually uses a typical quake style mouse keyboard combo control scheme. This is easy to learn but a lot of people that want to buy a house
    at the moment are not so familiar with playing 3D shooters. They can use the mouse to look around and they can move the camera position with the
    keyboard, but inexperienced users have a hard time controlling both at the same time.

    This is why my latest system the VisionaiR360 uses a different setup like normal cave systems. by creating a 360 view of the environment, the user no longer has to focus on camera rotation (they just rotate themselves, and keep their orientation in the VR environment) and only have to deal with camera position (forward, backwards and strafe left right) making the software more easy to use.

    When the system is not rented it is available to the public in our new showroom in Tilburg (The Netherlands)

    So if you pass near Tilburg, you know where to go!

    Thanks to Maarten for taking the time to answer the interview.

    Tue 26 Aug 2008

    Sony EyePet – Augmented Reality for all

    Published at 9:51   Category Augmented Reality  

    Nice nice nice =)

    Wed 20 Aug 2008

    The “Improve” Project : Architecture and Cars

    Published at 11:04   Category Augmented Reality, VR Applications, VR Displays  

    Improve is a european project that intends to (surprisingly) improve the usability (hardware and software) of automotive and architectural applications, both VR and AR.

    Improve EU Project

     

    The goals are :

    • To develop stereoscopic lightweight transparent eyeglasses with OLED-based micro projectors
    • Improvements on micro emissive displays
    • Improve on tiled large scale displays
    • To enhance realism of the displayed virtual objects
    • To improve user interaction with those displays through new interaction metaphors and tracking approaches
    • To integrate and demonstrate large scale displays with near-to-the-eye displays in innovative collaborative mixed reality product development for industrial users

    They already have developed three HMD prototypes :

    Two of them are stereoscopic optical see-through head-mounted displays (HMD). One HMD is using very bright state-of-the-art OLED microdisplays and offers a resolution of 320×240 pixels, the second HMD is using LCoS microdisplays with a resolution of 800×600 pixel. Both are very lightweight and showing very good image quality and offering a good wearing comfort. The final prototype is a hand held stereoscopic optical see-though binoculars offering pixel based real light blocking mechanism.

    technology1.jpgtechnology2.jpgtechnology3.jpg

    They are also working on video streaming,  markerless tracking, tracking with markers, rendering and innovative interaction techniques.

    I’ve always thought architecture would be one of the first field to adopt VR, but they hardly use 3D software at all.

    The architectural scenarios are the following : On site sketching, In House Review, On Site Review.

    scenario1.jpgscenario2.jpgscenario3.jpg

    The automotive scenarios are : Surface quality review and Re-Styling.

    scenario4.jpgscenario5.jpg

    They did a relly great job at explaining their goals and achievements simply, which is something research projects often lack. Thanks for that!

    The video on the other hand are not that useful.

    Tue 5 Aug 2008

    Try Softkinetic technology at Siggraph (and win a Wii)

    Published at 13:41   Category VR Devices  

    Visit the 3DVIA Virtools booth #1217  !

    YouTube Preview Image
    Fri 1 Aug 2008

    VR RC Car

    Published at 10:12   Category VR Devices, VR Displays  

    Similar to the VR RC Airplane, here’s the same principle with a car :

    YouTube Preview Image

    Of course, I want one :p