Elpub buttonVirtual Reality News: 25th April 2003

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Users, Applications & Projects
01 BP Saves Time & Gains Accuracy
02 VR-based Medical Research
03 Oxford University's Research into the Brain
04 Research into Alzheimer's Disease Aided With 3D
05 Imaging of Scientific Data in Italy
06 Sony Pictures Gets Time-Saving Resource for Animators
07 Tomorrow: 3D on Your Phone from France Telecom
08 Today 3D on Your Phone from Vodafone live!
09 Homeland Security and Defense Center

Products & Services
10 Animation Based Curriculum
11 New Glasses-Free 3D Monitors
12 Challenge by Alibre
13 Midrange Technical Server
14 New Version of Open Inventor
Companies & Markets
15 $400k for 49% of 3D Glasses Manufacturer
16 Third Quarter Results for SGI
17 NVIS & InterSense
18 Console Quality Gaming On a Mobile Handset
19 3Dlabs & Sun together in $700m Market
20 Apple: Profit Up, Revenue Down, Laptops 42%
21 Sun: Profit on Lower Sales

People
22 New MD for Orad in the UK
23 SGI: Rocky Rhodes & Kenneth Yeager
Worth Watching
24 3D Non-Contact Robotic Cell

Events & Calls for Papers

227.01 BP Saves Time & Gains Accuracy

BP, one of the world's largest petroleum and petrochemicals companies, has added new and additional computing capabilities to its advanced seismic research facility. The research facility will benefit from the addition of HP Intel Itanium 2-based systems running Linux, resulting in faster seismic imaging. Based in Houston, BP's advanced seismic research center now includes a high-performance computing (HPC) cluster of 259 HP rx5670 systems with more than 1,000 Itanium 2 processors, providing a total of 4 teraflops and 8000 GB of memory, running under the Linux operating system. BP has achieved a significant increase in computing power, resulting in clearer images of the Earth's subsurface structures and the hydrocarbons they contain.

URL: http://www.hp.com
URL: http://www.intel.com

227.02 VR-based Medical Research

MOTEK has installed five CAREN systems in VR based medical research facilities in Europe and Canada. CAREN (Computer Assisted Rehabilitation ENvironment) is a multi sensory system for diagnostic, rehabilitation, evaluation and registration of the human balance system. The system enables the creation of a variety of experiments in a controlled and repeatable environment by using immersive & augmented systems. A predictive feedback loop is established where the subject's captured motions control a 6Dof motion platform; this enables synchronized manipulation of the physical ground in virtual universes. CAREN runs on Irix and Linux, supports multiple 3D I/O formats (.Xsi .3Ds .Fbx .Flt .Umf) and includes a Softimage3D site license for VR sets modeling. Currently there are systems at the Universities of Groningen and Twente in the Netherlands and the Universities of Montreal, McGill and Quebec City in Canada.

URL: http://www.e-motek.com

227.03 Oxford University's Research into the Brain

VIRTALIS has designed and implemented a VR facility for a laboratory based at the University Laboratory of Physiology, Oxford. The Wellcome Trust provided a £500,000 grant to cover the cost of the specialist equipment and its installation. The VR Research Group is headed by Dr Andrew Glennerster and is formulating experiments to test alternative theories that explain how we perceive the 3D world: "Very few experiments have ever been carried out that test how the brain represents 3D while a person is moving. This forms part of a bigger question troubling neuroscience - how is information from different times and places in the brain linked together in a coherent way? Normally, as we move around, our eyes jump from object to object about three times a second, yet we are quite unaware of any change. We are also unaware of the swirling patterns of motion that are generated on the retina as we move in a static environment.

Of course, it would be disastrous if we did perceive the dramatic retinal changes produced by saccadic eye movements, or the subtler retinal flow produced by head movements, but the question remains: how does the brain make sense of all this rapidly changing visual information?" The research team consists of experts from differing spheres, including spatial vision, motor control and robotics. The experiments they have already devised rely on the "immersive virtual reality" where virtual environments are experienced in real time as the person moves. They can subtly alter the way images change as the observer moves so that they are no longer compatible with a real, stationary 3D scene. In this way, researchers can begin to work out the rules or algorithms the visual system uses. It is already clear that the algorithms deployed by robots are quite unlike anything the human visual system uses. One potential application of this work is in making computer vision systems 'see' in a way that is more like human vision.

URL: http://www.vrweb.com
URL: http://virtualreality.physiol.ox.ac.uk/

227.04 Research into Alzheimer's Disease Aided With 3D

UCLA and University of Queensland (Australia) neuroscientists, using new imaging analysis techniques, have created 3D video maps showing how Alzheimer's disease systematically engulfs the brains of living patients. Dramatic time-lapse videos were built on an SGI Onyx family visualization system, starting with enormous data sets that were assembled at UCLA. That process began with raw data acquired on a Bruker AVANCE Electronics Medspec S200 MRI scanner interfaced to an SGI O2 system and pre-processed on an Octane system at the University of Queensland's Centre for Magnetic Resonance. The work was part of an ongoing University of Queensland project investigating early Alzheimer's disease. These moving images show the sequential destruction of brain areas that control memory function, then emotion and inhibition, and finally sensation. They also illustrate the fact that the disease spares small brain regions that control vision and other basic functions that typically remain intact in Alzheimer's patients.

URL: http://www.sgi.com/go/medical

227.05 Imaging of Scientific Data in Italy

The first European sale of Actuality Systems' Perspecta 3D System is to ENEA, the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy, and the Environment. The system will be used as part of the center's applied research and development work in 3D imaging of scientific data. The Perspecta 3D System is a 360-degree spatial display. The system enables users to render high-resolution spatial images that can be viewed from any angle as the user moves around the display. The display itself illuminates 100 million volume pixels, or "voxels," using Actuality patented technologies, within a transparent Lexan dome. Typical applications for the Perspecta 3D System include: nuclear medical imaging, radiation treatment planning, surgical planning for doctors visualizing angiogram data or to more precisely locate tumor on an x-ray, CAT scan, or mammogram; air-traffic control; 3D game development; and security, visualizing the contents of freight or passenger luggage.

227.06 Sony Pictures Gets Time-Saving Resource for Animators

Sony Pictures Imageworks, an award-winning visual effects and animation company, has recently purchased multiple Kaydara MOTIONBUILDER and MOCAP systems. MOTIONBUILDER, a real-time 3D character animation software package, will be an integral component of Sony Pictures Imageworks production pipeline for animating an assortment of digital characters in upcoming feature films. "Bringing a producer's vision to life requires us to be creative and find the best artistic and technical solutions available," said Ted Alexandre, senior systems engineer for Sony Pictures Imageworks. "Many of our upcoming films use motion capture and CG to mimic actual live actor performances, MOTIONBUILDER's real-time character animation tools will be an essential and time-saving resource for our animators."

URL: http://www.sonypictures.com
URL: http://www.kaydara.com

227.07 3D on Your Nokia Phone from France Telecom

Superscape is working with France Telecom R&D, mandated by Orange innovation, to develop a series of branded 3D menus, initially for the Nokia 7650 mobile phone. The work is designed to create an application to provide the opportunity for network operators to brand services available on the phone, as well as grabbing the attention of users. Superscape's development work is covering four main areas: In the Phone Book section, users will be able to assign an avatar (virtual helper) in addition to the standard features of adding, removing and editing contacts; in the Messaging section, the application will automatically recognize specific types of messages and play a relevant animation for the user; ring tones will be available for download from a dedicated portal; and the screen saver will include a news banner.

URL: http://www.superscape.com

227.08 3D on Your Vodafone live! Phone

Bandai Networks Co Ltd and HI Corporation are to supply three 3D games to Vodafone for its consumer service, Vodafone live!, with distribution beginning any day now. The titles are, "3D Darts", "3D Bass Fishing", and "3D Boxing", Java games that are already popular in Japan. These games will be the first 3D mobile games on Vodafone live! and thought to be the first of their kind in Europe. Vodafone Group Plc provides a full range of mobile telecommunications services, including voice and data communications. Vodafone has equity interests in 28 countries and Partner Networks in a further 7 countries, serving over 112 million proportionate customers.

URL: http://www.mascotcapsule.com

227.09 Homeland Security and Defense Center

A Homeland Security and Defense Center (HDC) has been established at the University California Irvine (UCI). The HDC uses EON Reality software to provide a scalable immersive environment where "What if" scenario visualization of terrorism countermeasures of for example chemical and biological attacks can be conducted. The collaborative HDC environment will provide government agencies, defense companies and related partners with advanced simulation and training in order to efficiently train all phases of homeland security including: detection, preparation, prevention, protection, response and recovery. The initial investment in the HDC was made possible partly through grants and support furnished by EON Reality.

URL: http://www.eonreality.com

227.10 Animation Based Curriculum

Ascension Technology Corporation plans to develop a real-time computer animation based curriculum to be used as a teaching instrument in various disciplines. The plug and play system will incorporate MocapLite, a derivation of Ascension's MotionStar motion tracker. The courseware will be designed for interactive instruction, with the curriculum initially written for a course in animation. Subsequent multi-disciplinary units will follow. The announcement was made during a motion capture demonstration in which students from Vermont's South Burlington High School Imaging Lab, using MotionStar, brought to life characters they had created themselves.

URL: http://www.ascension-tech.com
URL: http://imagelab.sbschools.net

227.11 New Glasses-Free 3D Monitors

StereoGraphics has launched two new SynthaGram Glasses-Free 3D monitors as well as the SynthaGram Player. StereoGraphics now has four SynthaGram monitors which use lenticular technology to create images that are brighter and without surface reflections and distracting pattern noise common in raster barrier displays. SynthaGram prices range from $4,495 to $17,995, but a special introductory price is available to June 30th.

URL: http://www.stereographics.com

227.12 Challenge by Alibre

Alibre has announced Alibre Design 6.0 and a new application, Alibre Design Professional. Alibre Design is the company's low-cost, 3D parametric solid modeling application for MCAD. The company also launched the Alibre Challenge, which dares trial users to prove that their designs cannot be created in Alibre Design Professional, but can be done in these comparable systems: SolidWorks, Solid Edge or Autodesk Inventor. Details and rules are posted at www.alibre.com/promos/challenge. Free 30-day trials of Alibre Design are available at the Alibre Web site.

URL: http://www.alibre.com

227.13 Midrange Technical Server

SGI has released the SGI Origin 350 midrange technical server, which caps the company's recent series of high-productivity servers and supercomputers. Powered by the NUMAflex architecture, SGI Origin 350 can be expanded modularly from a stand-alone, two-processor technical server to an HPC workhorse with up to 32 processors, 64GB of memory and 62 PCI-X slots. Entry-level configurations with two processors and 1GB memory are available for $23,790.

URL: http://www.sgi.com

227.14 New Version of Open Inventor

Version 4.0 of TGS' Open Inventor is available. With this version, TGS has taken customer-inspired enhancements and broadened both the functionality and flexibility of the toolkit. Enhancements in version 4.0 include: Native SoQt Library, Multi-Volume Support, Volume Geometry Nodes, Expanded Display Support, Bump Mapping Support, Improved Transparency, and more.

URL: http://www.tgs.com/pro_div/oiv_overview.htm

227.15 $400k for 49% of 3D Glasses Manufacturer

StereoVision Entertainment Inc has agreed to pay $400,000 for 49% of the private Californian company, Dimension 3 Inc and to provide $350,000 for the Dimension 3's internal corporate expansion plan. Dimension 3 claims to be the world's leading 3D glasses manufacturer and distributor, having distributed over 500 million pairs to-date. Along with collaborating on the productions, Dimension 3 provided over 38m pairs of 3D glasses to ABC and NBC for the 3D productions of their shows "Home Improvement", "The Drew Carey Show", and "Third Rock From The Sun". Dimension 3 realized a net profit of approximately $.05 per pair for the 38m pairs sold for these shows. StereoVision Entertainment Inc is a publicly traded multimedia Nevada corporation, listed on the over the counter bulletin board exchange. The company has interests in 3D film and video productions, independent film making, entertainment content acquisition, music production, publishing, and distribution.

227.16 Third Quarter Results for SGI

SGI's results for its third fiscal quarter, which ended March 28, 2003 show revenue for the quarter was $217m, compared with $263m for the previous quarter. Operating expenses were $128 million. This resulted in an operating loss of $47.9 million, compared with an operating loss of $8.6 million for the previous quarter. "The defense industry remains a bright spot for us and is growing year-over-year, with evidence of continuing momentum in this sector," said Bob Bishop, chairman and CEO of SGI. "We're also encouraged by the early response to our new Altix line of Linux superclusters and servers in its first quarter of shipments. However, in this period of global uncertainty, heightened by the war in Iraq, customers have continued to delay larger project commitments. We are not in any way satisfied with these results, and are taking action to accelerate the adoption of our new products and to improve our financial condition. Today we announced an exchange offer to extend the maturity of our senior convertible debt and strengthen customer confidence. These actions will also ensure that we remain well-positioned to take advantage of a market turn-around as it occurs." Earlier this month, SGI renewed its asset-based line of credit with Foothill Capital Corporation to provide for up to $50 million of available credit.

URL: http://www.sgi.com

227.17 NVIS & InterSense

NVIS Inc, a developer of high resolution, near eye immersive display systems, and InterSense Inc have combined their technologies to offer an integrated display system for tracked immersive and interactive visualization solutions. The integrated products combine NVIS' nVisor SX and Virtual Binocular SX or InertiaCube2 motion tracking technology.

URL: http://www.nvisinc.com
URL: http://www.isense.com

227.18 Console Quality Gaming On a Mobile Handset

Fathammer and AlphaCell, an Emblaze Group company, today announced a licensing agreement that will bring a console quality gaming experience to the AlphaCell M5 mobile handset. The agreement means that any network operator working with AlphaCell will be able to offer its customers a smartphone providing an enhanced 3D gaming experience. The AlphaCell M5 can be adapted for entertainment and gaming. It features a 65,000 color screen, a 144 MHz processor, four programmable soft keys and a micro-joystick located around the screen. The deal with Fathammer enables game developers and publishers who choose to launch mobile games on the M5 to use Fathammer's X-Forge 3D Game Engine SDK. Fathammer's recently launched games division Vasara Games is providing AlphaCell with two 3D games for M5. Stuntcar Extreme and Geopod can be tailored to include features that will generate traffic on wireless networks, allowing the new M5 handset, which will work on GPRS networks worldwide, to offer up-to-date gaming, multimedia and personal information management software.

URL: http://www.fathammer.com
URL: http://www.alphacell.com
URL: http://www.emblaze.com

227.19 3Dlabs & Sun together in $700m Market

3Dlabs's Wildcat technology is powering the Sun XVR-1200 graphics accelerator which is available for Sun Blade 2000 workstations and Sun Fire 6800 servers. According to Dr Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie Research: "The Sun Blade 2000 workstation with Sun XVR-1200 graphics... is in a segment we are forecasting to be worth $500 million in 2003 and growing to $700m by 2005."

URL: http://www.3Dlabs.com

227.20 Apple: Profit Up, Revenue Down, Laptops 42%

Apple reported net income of $14m for its fiscal second quarter ended March 29. It was Apple's first profit after two-consecutive quarterly net losses, but the result was down 65% compared with net of $40 million a year earlier. Apple's revenue was $1.48bn for the quarter, down 1.3%. The company shipped 711,000 Macintosh computers during the quarter, of which 42% were laptops.

227.21 Sun: Profit on Lower Sales

For the fiscal third period ended March 30, Sun reported net income of $4m compared with a year-earlier loss of $37m. Revenue fell 10% to $2.79bn.

227.22 New MD for Orad in the UK

Carl Wolf has been appointed Managing Director of Orad Hi-Tec Systems (UK) Ltd.

227.23 SGI: Rocky Rhodes & Kenneth Yeager

Congratulations to Rocky Rhodes and Kenneth Yeager who have joined the ranks of the most prestigious employees within SGI: chief engineers. Mr Rhodes, a co-founder of SGI, formally rejoined the company as chief engineer earlier this year. Mr Yeager was promoted from principal engineer to chief engineer; he has been with SGI since 1990. SGI annually appoints new principal and chief engineers. These engineers are recognized for their exceptional degree of creativity, ingenuity, resourcefulness, social leadership and spirit, and for the significant impact they make both inside and outside of SGI. Yeager and Rhodes join SGI's existing chief engineers, Steven Miller (based in Mountain View) and Michael Woodacre (in Reading, UK).

URL: http://www.sgi.com

227.24 Worth Watching: 3D Non-Contact Robotic Cell

CogniTens Ltd, a manufacturer of 3D non-contact measurement solutions, and QMC LLC, an integrator of dimensional and quality engineering solutions, have reached an agreement for integration and distribution of OptiCell, an automated 3D non-contact robotic cell for on-line repetitive parts measurements. CogniTens developed the non-contact 3D measurement solution for the robotic cell. QMC brings along experience in providing solutions and performs the integration of Flexible Measurement Systems (FMS) to deliver an integrated turnkey non-contact measurement station. OptiCell is an automated measurement system designed for automated process control and quality assurance on the shop floor. With its sub-millisecond acquisition time and an optical head mounted on an industrial robot, the system can operate in uncontrolled vibration, light and temperature environments. OptiCell is targeted at applications where tight process control is required to deliver immediate information on production processes. Highly accurate measurement capabilities and automated repetitive measurement functions allow OptiCell to measure multiple parts in sequence, providing manufacturing managers with part to CAD deviation information and trend reports. OptiCell is based on the field-proven Optigo station installed at many different customers worldwide. Optigo collects highly accurate and dense clouds of points, and delivers immediate analysis of the collected data to find deviations from the design intent, and flaws in tools and parts.

227.00 Events & Calls for Papers

For details of the following events, see: http://www.vrefresh.com

May 5: First International Workshop on ICTs and Cultural Heritage, Spain
May 7-9: Casa'2003, New Jersey, USA
May 7-10: 3D Festival, Copenhagen, Denmark
May 13-18: Laval Virtual Reality International Conference, Laval, France
May 18-22: 2003 Bentley International User Conference, Maryland, USA
May 22-23: Joint IPT/EGVE '03 Workshop, Zurich, Switzerland
June 3-5: EurographicsUK 2003, Birmingham, England
July 10-11: Vision, Video and Graphics 2003, Bath, UK
July 14-18: CREATE, New York, USA
July 27 - 31: Siggraph 2003, San Diego, California, USA
September 1-6: Eurographics 2003, Granada, Spain
October 15-17: VSMM 2003, Montreal, Canada


For extensive information about events relevant to the European VR/i3D community, see the events pages on El.pub: for Europe: base05.htm, for the rest of the world: connone.htm


About VREfresh news
Each edition of virtual reality news is now published on a separate page, ensuring that links (particularly from VREfresh) continue to remain current. To view news from previous issues, please use the navigation buttons below.
VREfresh
Email alerter of news items and associated URLs, send an email with your name, organisation, country (and for the US a zip code) to the Editor via the link above.
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