Displaying 3D images

From: RePliForm Info (info@repliforminc.com)
Date: Wed Jul 03 2002 - 02:12:58 EEST

Regarding viewing things in 3D, there was an interesting article last week
on CNET where a 3D display like a crystal ball is used to view electronic

It's large, it's round--it's the latest in 3D
By Matthew Broersma
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
June 27, 2002, 1:25 PM PT

The ideal computer display of today may be flat, but a start-up called
Actuality Systems has gazed into the future, and what it has seen looks more
like a crystal ball.

The Burlington, Mass., company, founded in 1997, has been perfecting a type
of 3D display with a basketball-size glass dome that connects to an ordinary
workstation to display 3D models and animations.

On Tuesday the company announced its first customer, the Adelphi, Md.-based
U.S. Army Research Laboratory, which carries out research for the Army, the
Department of Defense, NASA and other government bodies.

Actuality's Perspecta display costs $40,000 and up, but the company says
costs could drop so that the device would be affordable for ordinary
consumers and gamers.

"Component costs will decrease," said Gregg Favalora, Actuality's chief
technology officer and a co-founder. "There could be a desktop unit in the

The display sold to the Army lab is mounted on a stabilized rolling
platform, which bears the display and an IBM workstation along with a
retractable keyboard, joystick and flat-panel display. The display has its
own built-in Spatial Rendering Kernel, which is designed around open
standards such as Open GL. This allows it to interact with mainstream
applications running on Windows or Linux software.

Favalora would not comment on the applications the Army lab would use the
display for, but the company said the display would be evaluated for
command-and-control and field operations.

The 3D mechanism behind Perspecta goes back to the 1960s but had to wait for
high-resolution processing and display technology to catch up. Perspecta
uses a collection of proprietary algorithms to slice 3D data into a format
that can be replicated in three spatial dimensions. A projector then
displays the data at 5,000 frames per second onto a rotating screen within
the transparent sphere, in such a way that the eye sees a 3D image.

The image comprises 198 two-dimensional slices, with a 768-by-768-pixel
resolution for each slice. The image is displayed using a Texas Instruments
1600 MIPS digital signal processor with a 24Hz volume refresh.

Each 10-inch-diameter image contains 100 million "volume pixels," or
"voxels," according to Actuality, and can be viewed from any angle. Other
systems either generate a 2D rendering of a 3D image or require stereoscopic
goggles to translate the display into what appears to be 3D. Actuality is
initially targeting the pharmaceuticals industry, where researchers need to
see the interactions of 3D models in designing and manufacturing drugs.

It will be a while before such technology is suitable for mass-market use,
however. In addition to the cost needing to come down, display technology
needs to improve; at present, full-resolution images are displayed in only
eight colors, and brightness and contrast could be improved, Favalora said.

And for some uses, such as displaying the types of holographic images seen
in 1977's "Star Wars," computing technology itself will have to make
advances. "The industry is still a little ways off from full-motion 3D
movies," Favalora said.

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi [mailto:owner-rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi]On
Behalf Of Bathsheba Grossman
Sent: Tuesday, July 02, 2002 2:56 PM
To: rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Subject: RE: Novice 3d scan question: stitching point clouds

On Sat, 29 Jun 2002, Anshuman Razdan wrote:
> Hmm interesting that you want the points aligned but don't want a mesh
> like Geomagic would produce. One alternative is to use Geomagic to
> combine the points let it be wrapped and meshed. Then you can sort of
> sample the surface as just points. Throw away the topology and keep the
> geometry (points). Would u describe your application a bit more as I am
> puzzled that you don't want more than points.

I'm doing subsurface laser etching in glass blocks. This technology
just plots points in 3D - no lines or surfaces - so it renders point
clouds simply as point clouds, with no need for any more structure.
It's quite nifty really: not very big, but things can be done with the
medium that just aren't on the table with carved or built models.

I personally am more interested in sculptural and scientific models
(there are two at http://bathsheba.com/crystal), but I know people who
want to etch scanned portraits and other objects, and I figured this
would be the place to ask.

Thanks to everyone for helpful suggestions!

It seems like all the software that does this is very expensive and
also does a lot of other things not relevant to this application. So
we'll probably end up either getting it done as a service, or with me
writing a wee tool to do the job.

Bathsheba Grossman                                         (831) 429-8224
Sculpture                                                   bathsheba.com
Creative prototyping                                       protoshape.com

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