Monday, September 11, 2000
Animation is where it's at. As computer processing power continues to drop in
price, more and more engineers are animating their CAD models, as well as FEA
and CFD calculations. The moving figures can be helpful for assembly instruction
on the factory floor, for marketing on a web site, or for checking if all the
parts fit together when an engine is running. There's even an animated
spokesperson named Heather who provides help desk advice for Alias Wavefront (http://www.aliaswavefront.com)
But while software can create realistic movies of inanimate parts, it has yet
to master human motion. The usual work-around is called motion capture--in which
a real human supplies that motion. A computer picks up her movements through
small sensors attached to a body suit, then transfers those movements to a
computer-animated figure…usually with a delay of several seconds.
But Tanya works in real-time. Tanya is a "virtual club dancer" who will
perform tonight at the Escape Club in Amsterdam for attendees at the
International Broadcasting Convention (IBC, http://www.ibc.org). A human dancer wearing a
motion capture suit will supply the moves, beam the data to a wireless pickup on
the club's computers, and the computer-generated Tanya will appear to boogie to
the music, matching the tunes beat-by-beat.
The technology includes a STARTRAK® real-time RF-wireless motion capture suit
from Polhemus Inc. (Colchester, VT,
http://www.polhemus.com) and Typhoon motion capture software from DreamTeam
Ltd. (Pituach, Israel, http://www.dreamteam-ltd.com).