by Jim Bennett (August 9, 1999)
As exhibitors put the final touches on their booths, Siggraph 99 is shaping up as a very exciting show. Large booths include Intel, SGI, Sun Microsystems, Alias/Wavefront, IBM, Compaq, Evans and Sutherland, Avid Technology and Intergraph. While pre-show access has been restricted, I did talk to several exhibitors to get some early insights and impressions. One can tell that this is an international conference as there are a great number of non-US attendees.
The Millennium Motel is located in the basement, but it's growing many new and exciting emerging technologies. While the emphasis is on technical innovation, there may be some ideas that evolve to commercial success. These efforts range between aesthetics and logic, while work "infrastructures" of technology converge with the "networks of desire". Presentations included multimodal interface design, intelligent autonomous agents, scientific visualization, conceptual electronic performance and alternative realities. As you walk into this area, you are greeted by a multi-laser light show, complete with high-tech fog and space-age music, which creates a very unique environment. Virtual reality, speech recognition, more efficient real-time rendering and high-energy, intelligent food were among the items featured. Many presenters were focused on making user interfaces more intuitive and easier to use. One young inventor promised his system would require only about five minutes of instruction to use his new operating system interface. More details of these technology efforts will be included in Reviews OnLine ongoing coverage of Siggraph `99.
Moving to The Studio, I talked with many technology teams who were imagining, trading and collaborating in state-of-the-art computer graphics efforts. This was an fascinating mix of artists, scientists and engineers who were using the latest high-end printers and 3-D desktop modelers to create unique 2D and 3-D output. Later in the week, several leading edge 3D demonstrations are promised.
Today's technical conferences and special programs emphasized emerging technologies, computer animation and computer graphics ranging from the fundamentals to the advanced and they were very well attended. Some had excellent handout materials, while others did not, but attendees seemed eager to learn. In the workshop areas, many eagerly tried their newly acquired skills on some of the latest hardware. The "Introduction To Computer Graphics" session had great handout materials and this seminar was supplemented with slides, videotapes and on-line demonstrations. Ample time was devoted to explaining many of the new technical terms, concepts and products, so new users of this technology can properly understand the new jargon of this emerging career field. The advanced courses addressed many of the technical requirements to achieve the latest levels of advanced computer graphics in print, film and digital media. These seminars continue through Friday.
Among several pre-event exhibitor interviews, I talked with MUSE Technologies of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their approach to multidimensional, user oriented, synthetic interfaces is quite remarkable. In a nutshell, their software provides better ways to experience, analyze and understand all types of data using sight, sound and even touch to unlock hidden trends and achieve higher levels of discovery and problem solving. This is becoming very critical in today's over-saturated information age.
Perceptual computing is a breakthrough approach to increasing the speed and efficiency that humans convert complex information into usable knowledge and engage in dynamic collaboration across networks, on a global and possibly interstellar basis. MUSE Technology was used for some of NASA's space projects by assisting program managers and engineers gain critical pre-mission insights, while providing collaborative design capabilities to enrich the analysis of extremely complex data. While this technology assisted our country's efforts to explore space and is very exciting from a discovery and high-profile perspective, it strikes me that this approach could help solve many business problems and help corporations take advantage of new opportunities.
Randy Brayer of Goodyear's race tire division was also impressed with MUSE's ability to simultaneously view 15 or more types of data. Using MUSE software to represent vehicles on racetracks, the system assists his team's understanding of how tires and race cars perform in the most demanding situations. According to Randy, this sophisticated analysis was previously performed using conventional 3-D charts and graphs, but now Goodyear engineers can look at vehicle tire data in an immersive environment and gain new insights. Now they can observe data from any desired angle or viewpoint, as cars race around the track or race side-by-side. Engineers can even virtually "attach themselves" to the car to analyze vehicle performance, while hearing the actual sounds of acceleration and braking. I look forward to providing you with some insights from our exclusive interview with Randy on Goodyear's racing tire technologies and what MUSE Technologies is working on for the next millennium. These exciting developments affect not only the automotive industry, but also in medical, oil and gas exploration, database, manufacturing and aerospace industries.
Intergraph Intense 3-D
Another exciting company in the world of computer graphics is Intense 3-D. This company is a division of Intergraph Computer Systems and a market leader in affordable, high-performance 3-D graphics accelerator products for Windows NT. It is now extending its product offerings to a full range of computing platforms. The Intense 3-D utilizes their highly scaleable Wildcat 3-D graphics technology which enables them to deliver the latest innovations to market quickly and affordably. It has achieved record-breaking performance and has received many awards by a wide variety of publications.
Wildcat 3D graphics
Wildcat's new 4110 3D graphics accelerator product has broken previous Viewperf benchmarks for UNIX systems making it the fastest 3-D graphics accelerator on any platform. It offers twice the performance of previous generation Wildcat products and promises to double or even quadruple performance relative to single pipeline products. This opens up exciting new graphics possibilities for professionals working in MCAD, digital content creation, visual simulation, scientific visualization and other fields that demand the highest performing graphics available. This technology is available in some of the industries highest performing workstations from Compaq, Dell, Fujitsu, IBM, Intergraph and Siemens.
In typical Reviews OnLine spirit, I will be bringing you insights and coverage of Siggraph `99 that take place before, during and after the show - come back to read our ongoing coverage.
© 1999 Jim Bennett All rights reserved.