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CAD Upstart Gives Designers Holographic View
12/5/2011

Objects in zSpace appear 'solid' in open space, allowing users to manipulate them directly as if they were real physical objects.
Objects in zSpace appear "solid" in open space, allowing users to manipulate them directly as if they were real physical objects.

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Rob Spiegel
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Where will this get adoption
Rob Spiegel   12/5/2011 10:32:32 AM
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Nice article, Beth.

Interesting technology. What are there some industries where this is likely to get adopted quickly? Are there engineers who have been waiting for this type of technology to solve specific problems? You mentioned medical. Are there others? I can imagine this would have game applications, but that will probably require significant price reductions.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Where will this get adoption
Beth Stackpole   12/5/2011 10:50:03 AM
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I'm not sure engineers are waiting for something like this, Rob, because I'm not sure you can really envision what exactly a holographic view is unless you see it and try it. That said, if a device like this works as promised and the company can gain some traction with a distribution channel and ISV support, I could imagine a host of applications and industries where it could be applied. I don't think it's really industry specific--just another way of looking at virtual images trying to make them more lifelike and helping to avoid some of the physical prototyping stages which is costly.

 

 

Ann R. Thryft
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What's the hardware requirement?
Ann R. Thryft   12/5/2011 12:53:31 PM
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I'm wondering about the computational requirements of this system, and the required hardware. Apparently, from the website, one needs a higher end PC, Windows 7, and a stereo graphics card, and then you buy the special monitor/interactive screen, plus the stylus and glasses as pictured. So is this mostly off-the-shelf?

 


Beth Stackpole
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Re: What's the hardware requirement?
Beth Stackpole   12/5/2011 3:45:02 PM
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Yes Ann. Off the shelf, but pricey!

 

Alexander Wolfe
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Re: What's the hardware requirement?
Alexander Wolfe   12/5/2011 5:03:43 PM
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It strikes me that many of the advances and features we're attributing to CAD per se are actually visualization features or capabilities being added into CAD packages. In other words, if you go back to the SIGGRAPH conferences of a decade ago, you'll see all the 3D and rotating/360-degree view stuff, which is being folded into CAD now. So it's good stuff and I'm not denigrating it at all, just making the point that its roots seem to predate CAD. It's the availability of greater processing power on the desktop which enables these features to come to CAD today.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: What's the hardware requirement?
Beth Stackpole   12/6/2011 6:33:07 AM
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Visualization is definitely a core part of today's CAD offerings, Alex, and a critical element at that. And you are correct in pointing out that these capabilities are being folded in because of exponential leap in processing performance. Today's workstations, even high-end laptops, are perfectly capable of displaying life-life 3D images whereas in decades past, you need highly specialized workstations to do so.

naperlou
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Re: Where will this get adoption
naperlou   12/6/2011 9:45:31 AM
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This is fantastic!  This isn't really engineering related, but years ago I was working on a very large Army project and this is exactly what they wanted.  Of course, their interest was in looking at terrain before engaging the enemy.  We saw a system at MIT that would project a hologram in space.  This was 20 years ago, mind you.  It did not require any special display technology, so you could walk around the hologram.  On the other hand it took a large Connection Machine to compute the hologram (this would take the place of the graphics card) and had some very complex lasers and other devices to actually project the image. 

In the engineering realm, I have seen some demand coming for 3D printers.  This would be a better approach, I would think, in that you can interact with and modify the model.  There would still be a place for the 3D printer, but this might be cheaper and more functional.

Charles Murray
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Remarkably similar
Charles Murray   12/5/2011 9:35:17 PM
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The article says "remarkably similar to real physical objects." Is the photo on this page a holograph? It seems impossibly good. 

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Remarkably similar
Beth Stackpole   12/6/2011 6:30:58 AM
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I believe the image is the holigraphic representation. Pretty cool.

Charles Murray
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Re: Remarkably similar
Charles Murray   12/6/2011 10:35:14 PM
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Real or not, this is an absolutely amazing way to do design work. I wonder how big the market is for this technology. Is Infinite-Z expecting broad use of this technology or is it a niche?

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Remarkably similar
Beth Stackpole   12/7/2011 7:07:04 AM
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I think they're hoping for broad, Chuck, but at least for the near term, I expect it to be niche. It's cool stuff, but pricey and likely beyond the need and comfort zone of many CAD jockeys and engineers.

jhankwitz
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Re: Remarkably similar
jhankwitz   12/6/2011 11:52:57 AM
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Not only is the illustration impossibly good, but impossible.  3-D hardware providers should be held to task for the missrepresentations they use in promotional pieces.  It's impossible to show/project/view a 3-D image beyond the edges of the screen. 

We see this all the time on TV when 3-D TV manufactures show a viewer watch an image fly off their TV screen and over their sholder.  Impossible!

What is presented here is a totally bogus artist rendering, selling a lie.

 

HBJimmy
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Re: Remarkably similar
HBJimmy   12/6/2011 6:47:19 PM
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jhankwitz - sure seems that way, and yet...

Some thoughts:  There was probably some embellishment in the "ad" (like seeing the object in front of the user's face).  However, there is still room for some 21st century 'magic'.  Just because you see what looks like a souped-up WACOM tablet doen't mean that **that** device is creating the images.  Note:  This is called "virtual hologram" - this means real holgraphy (lasers, whatnot) is probably not employed (not for $6000).  I imagine the image area is very large (and possibly curved - not a requirement).  The Start Trek WACOM Tablet is probably an image that is drawn on the big screen.  This gives you an "area of surprise" when you see objects rendered beyond its edge.  This also gives you a psychological constraining area.  For instance, if the tablet is 9"x9", you might have objects floating five or ten inches beyond the borders, but you wouldn't expect to see the object rendered eight feet away.  So the disappointment that occurs when you drag something past the edge -- and it disappears -- still exists, it's only 30 inches away from the edge of the "tablet."  This gives you a nice "play area" around the tablet.  The tablet which doesn't exist - it's an image on the big screen.  Nice magic.  Too bad the video took it just past "likely."

And nice find, Beth!  Can't wait to see one of these bad boys for real.

bbell
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Re: Remarkably similar
bbell   12/8/2011 2:23:17 PM
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I work at InfiniteZ; hopefully I can clear some of this up.

The main point is: at no point do the pixels physically leave the screen.  If the user's view of a virtual object slides off the screen, he won't be able to see it; likewise, if the screen is occluded by a real object (like the user's hand).

However, within these limits, the system provides a true virtual reality experience:  the user can peer around virtual objects as if they were real, while directly manipulating them with the stylus.  With a conventional CAD interface, that kind of task would require the user to stop editing, tweak the view camera, then switch back to editing again -- but with virtual reality, this context switch is unnecessary.



vimalkumarp
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holographic view
vimalkumarp   12/5/2011 10:14:27 PM
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This will add another dimension to the design world for sure. This reminds of  Arthur C Clarke and his famous point that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

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