Chris King, IDV Inc.
|Q1||Can you tell us about the origins of the Eye-Sys project? Who does the team consist of?|
|A1||Eye-Sys was partially funded through a contract with the U.S. Navy?s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. It was developed in response to the SBIR topic titled ?Enhanced Visualization of Modeling and Simulation Processes.? The founders of IDV, Michael Sechrest and myself, had a strong background in real-time visualization from work in the 1990's using Silicon Graphics systems at the University of South Carolina, so this particular topic was a perfect match for the core competency of the company.|
The Eye-Sys development team consists largely of the same personnel that work on SpeedTree at IDV.
|Q2||What typical market is Eye-Sys aimed at? Can you give us a few examples of projects carried out using your technology?|
Eye-Sys as a general, data-driven, real-time visualization environment. Its general design means it can solve a wide variety of problems. Contrary to the trend among visualization companies, IDV does not offer different products for different markets. It's similar to PowerPoint┬« in how it is positioned. Just as there is no "PowerPoint/Automotive" or "PowerPoint/Medical," there is no "Eye-Sys/Engineering" or "Eys-Sys/Financial." There is one tool that's general enough to solve a wide range of visualization challenges.
|Q3||The Eye-Sys User Interface is a combination of building blocks and property editors. How long does it take to get fully operational as a user? Can a 3D artist which has no specific programming skills learn Eye-Sys?|
|A3||Absolutely. In fact, we tasked our lead SpeedTreeCAD graphic artist, Steve Klipowicz, with creating a visualization from scratch. As part of a collaboration with AEgis Technologies, we had Steve create a visualization of chloroform entering the human body. Specifically, the concentration on chloroform in different parts of the body over time was to be illustrated.|
Steve took the data from AEgis, bought a few 3D models on-line, and took to creating the system. The screenshot here shows the results of his effort, which is a fully animated and interactive visualization. No programming was necessary -- the entire visualization was built using standard Eye-Sys objects. More screenshots available here.
New users adapt to Eye-Sys very rapidly as we have several tutorials in the documentation that detail every phase of creating a visualization (input, manipulation, and display). It takes about a week for users to become familiar enough with the system to begin producing fully-featured visualizations.
|Q4||Eye-Sys currently imports 3D models in the 3DS, OBJ, IMF and DXF formats. One could wonder why standard formats such as VRML or Collada are not supported yet.|
|A4||You're right, Eye-Sys 1.0 does support 3DS, OBJ, DXF, and IMF (our own internal format) and does not support Collada or VRML. However, Collada support has been added in version 1.1, to be released soon. We're quite happy with how well the Collada importer works and we use it, in part, to answer question #5 below. IDV will continue to respond to our users and the community by adding additional format support in subsequent releases.|
Please note that users can use the SDK to add their own model importers, too. Also, the SDK can also be used to write new data importers, manipulators, and display objects & systems. This is particularly important for companies who use their own proprietary formats or for defense contractors or government organizations using Eye-Sys with classified formats.
|Q5||Does Eye-Sys allow to import 3D scenes with a very high polygon count?|
|A5||The Eye-Sys development team has a great deal of experience in squeezing the most of out a system's graphics capabilities. SpeedTree can render forests with millions of trees covering hundreds of square kilometers at solid frame rates on commodity video hardware. IDV brings this same real-time graphical knowhow to Eye-Sys, which is very lean when it comes to its rendering code and takes advantage of the power of the GPU it's running on. Rest assured that for most systems, Eye-Sys is making the card pump out very close to its realistic capacity.|
Take the following system as an example of how efficiently Eye-Sys can render high polygon counts. This system employs our scene graph rendering object rendering four different models read from three different file formats. The models total 662,442 triangles plus 75,818 line segments:
* A SpeedTree mesh (COLLADA): 95,745 triangles
|Q6||The product specifications show that Eye-Sys can run on Vista. Does that mean full DirectX 10 support?|
|A6||Eye-Sys does indeed run on Vista, but it is implemented in 100% OpenGL. We have a lot of DirectX experience from developing SpeedTree for the PC and Xbox 360 and respect the API a great deal. However, OpenGL is a more suitable API for scientific and engineering visualization. We were particularly sensitive to new Eye-Sys SDK users when we made this decision. OpenGL, with its support for immediate mode rendering, helps less experienced users get off the ground faster. Plus, the SDK supplies classes and functions to help optimize performance, including a class for rendering using VBOs (Vertex Buffer Objects), a key technology for getting the most out of a GPU.|
|Q7||How can applications developed with Eye-Sys be published? (i.e. executables, on a web page using a plugin...) For which platforms?|
|A7||Version 1.1 will have a player exporting option. This essentially compiles the entire visualization down to a single executable that can be run on another system that does not have an Eye-Sys license. The players run on the same platforms that Eye-Sys supports: Microsoft┬« Windows┬« XP or Vista, 32 and 64-bit.|
|Q8||How difficult is it to add a User Interface to applications developed with Eye-Sys ?|
|A8||There is a set of Eye-Sys objects reserved specifically for this. The main object, called the Control Panel, is a blank slate that the user can place 2D gadgets and gizmos on that can be hooked into any part of the rest of the visualization. For example, sliders can be hooked to a multiplier in an expression object, the transparency value of part of a model, the scale/rotation/position of any 3D geometry, or even each other. Control panel components can also be used to display data as is the case with the gauge object which can display as a needle-and-dial, horizontal bar graph, vertical bar graph, and pie chart.|
This screenshot shows an example control panel layout. Note that Eye-Sys will allow the user to configure the panel with any number of objects in any layout they choose.
|Q9||Both in terms of software development and marketing, what are your next objectives concerning Eye-Sys?|
|A9||Just as we did with player exporting and Collada importing in the upcoming 1.1 release, we will continue to respond to our users' requests for enhanced functionality. There is a "Feature requests" section on the Eye-Sys forum and we monitor it closely.|
On the marketing side, given that Eye-Sys is a new class of software being marketed to users in many industries where the use of technology is evolving rapidly, IDV will continue to experiment with various sales and marketing approaches.
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