Advanced Manufacturing: Want Lifelike, Eye-Popping 3D Models?

Jan. 14, 2011
Technology from NVIDIA brings stereoscopic imaging to the workstation
Edited by Leslie Gordon
[email protected]

Large automotive OEMs have long used immersive virtual realties in the form of cubical-sized rooms called cave automatic virtual environments (CAVE) which let engineers interact with virtual cars almost as if the automobiles were real. Such settings are said to be so lifelike that individuals in the car seat often reach out to turn a “knob” on the “dashboard.” According to NVIDIA, Santa Clara, Calif., its 3D Vision Pro technology supports CAVEs, theaters, and demonstration rooms. Plus, the combination of hardware and software can even bring computer models to 3D stereoscopic life on individual and mobile workstations.

In general, stereoscopic imaging — sometimes called 3D imaging — is any technique that records 3D visual information with the intent of creating the illusion of depth in an image.

3D Vision Pro combines NVIDIA professional Quadro graphics boards (graphics-processing units, or GPUs), special software, company-certified displays and projectors, and wireless active shutter glasses, which the designer wears while looking at the display for an eye-popping 3D effect. Each lens contains a liquid-crystal layer, which is transparent until a voltage is applied to darken it. NVIDIA shutter glasses are controlled by a 2.4-GHz radio-frequency transmitter (hub) that alternately darkens one lens, then the other, in time with the computer display’s refresh rate. Meanwhile, the screen alternately shows different perspectives for each eye, “tricking” users into seeing what looks like real 3D objects.

Displays must be of a type called 3D vision ready. Examples include 120-Hz desktop LCD monitors such as Acer, ASUS, Alienware, LG, and Planar; 3D projectors; and Mitsubishi DLP HDTVs. Most applications that support stereoscopic 3D are compatible with 3D Vision. In the area of CAD/CAE, such applications include Showcase (Autodesk), Rhinoceros (McNeel), DeltaGen (Siemens), and 3Dvia (Dassault Systèmes).

According to NVIDIA, RF-based systems such as 3D Vision Pro have a longer range as compared to infrared technology — up to 100 ft. Because no line of sight is required between the glasses and emitter, the system works well in settings such as auditoriums. Bidirectional communication lets installations verify that the glasses are operating and see their battery levels. In addition, 3D Vision Pro provides a robust connection between each user and his or her panel that eliminates cross-talk and interference in multiuser settings like studios and labs.

Inside Tip: Currently use SolidWorks eDrawings? Stereoscopic 3D can also be used in eDrawings with an NVIDIA 3D Vision Pro kit. Just open your computer's registry. For Windows XP, push the Start button; select Run; and type "regedit." For Windows 7, press the Start button; type "regedit" in the Search box and push Enter. Find the HKEY_ in the Current_User folder; Select Software; then eDrawings. Find the eDrawings version; Open the General folder; Find the Stereo Display file; Set the Value data to 1 to turn on 3D (default setting is 0 or off).

© 2011 Penton Media, Inc.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Machine Design, create an account today!