Raindrop Geomagic Studio 3.0
by Rick Smith (December 8, 2000)
Even as standard digital photography becomes more and more mainstream, new technology arriving in the marketplace is making 3D digital photography easier to create and produce. After all, this is the 21st century.
Raindrop Geomagic is now shipping Geomagic Studio 3.0, which can create lifelike 3D models from physical objects. (Read how it is done below.) These models can then be used in engineering or artistically to synthesize new photographs at different angles and lighting effects.
Geomagic Studio models can also be used for interactive 3D visualization and for custom built-to-order products. These models can also be used to create solid objects using 3D printers.
Geomagic feels that their technology will help launch new industries based on 3D photography such as:
interactive 3D commerce where consumers can interact with 3D catalogs and see how products look from different angles and with different lighting.
custom businesses. If all the specific dimensions of your body are stored, clothes could be manufactured that fit perfectly, without any alterations. Products such as custom cars, motorcycles or corporate aircraft can be viewed BEFORE they are build so there aren’t any unpleasant surprises when your “one of a kind” custom is delivered. Even custom toys and games could be created at an affordable cost.
medical prosthetics. Items such as implants, replacement joints can be made more accurately without requiring surgeons to modify the fit of the replacement part in the operating room.
reproductions. Now complex works of art can be reproduced quickly and easily. Out of production vehicle parts can be stored in a digital inventory and “printed” out in 3D when ordered.
Raindrop Geomagic Studio also:
integrates with 3D products from: Arius3D (3D capturing); Z-corp (3D printing); Viewpoint (3D publishing on the web); NVIDIA (3D GPU).
increases productivity by using a layout template to eliminate repetitive tasks in similar models.
provides automatic edge sharpening, which helps to reconstruct sharp edges lost during the scanning process.
can add rich, detailed color to both point cloud and polygon models.
can generate extremely detailed texture, displacement and bump maps for streaming 3D content.
employs algorithms to fill holes and blemishes in the original scanned model. Now the results will look better than the original!
supports Sun Solaris environment (in addition to PCs) and NVIDIA graphics processing units (GPUs).
How Raindrop Geomagic Studio creates a digital model from a physical object:
Data is collected from a 3D scanner. This collected data is a “point cloud” consisting of thousands of data points in space, which form the surface of the object.
These points are then mathematically transformed into a “polygonal mesh”. This mesh consists of small polygons formed by connecting adjacent data points. Since there are thousands of points, there are thousands of polygons, much too complex to be useful.
By using more mathematics, many neighboring (and nearly parallel) polygons are merged into larger polygons that still accurately describe the model's surface. While simplified, the model is still complex and there is no sense of shape interrelationships.
Therefore, the model is transformed (yet again with more mathematics), into a collection of 3D curve patches or NURBS. This stands for Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines. This elegant mathematical representation helps further simplify the model. A 2D analogy would be to draw a series of 100 points in a perfect circle. It is far easier to describe this object as a circle with a specific center point and radius than it is give the coordinates of each point (similar to a point cloud) or a series of a 100 line segments (similar to a polygon mesh).
Not only does this make the model more compact, it smooths the object where it needs to be smooth which makes it appear more realistic at different viewing angles and close up.
© 2006 Rick Smith All rights reserved.