New Cyberware Software Makes 3D Scans Ideal For Animation, Virtual Reality

MONTEREY, CA - July 28, 1992 - Cyberware has announced the introduction of a polygon reduction program that adapts models from 3D scanners to applications such as animation, virtual reality, and medical visualization. The program reduces the amount of data in the models without impairing their overall accuracy. This permits animators to work with models obtained from the real world as easily as manually produced models, bringing a new level of reality to virtual reality.

The program is useful because of the nature of the scanned models. Cyberware 3D scanners capture the shape and color of an object in a regular grid, with resolutions as high as 75 points per inch. While this high resolution makes the resulting model highly detailed, the amount of data can overwhelm some applications.

The new program greatly reduces the amount of data by eliminating points in area that are relatively smooth. On a person's face, for example, the cheeks need only a few points for a full definition, while the eyes need to retain the highest possible resolution. The program selectively eliminates points that are not necessary for an accurate 3D model. Reductions of 5:1 to 10:1 are practical, which shrinks a 50,000 point-model database to 5,000 to 10,000 points.

To achieve this reduction, the program views the model as a web of triangles - the polygon representation preferred for animation. By iteratively eliminating points (polygon vertices) and evaluating the error of the resulting surface, the program can leave out only the points that have little or no effect upon the model's overall accuracy. Users can specify the allowable error, the largest allowable polygon, the polygon size distribution and other parameters, giving users complete control over the reduction process.

While the program simplifies the database describing the shape of the 3D model, the color database is retained at full resolution. This ensures that surface markings from the 3D object are always perfectly defined. The color information is texture-mapped onto the polygon model.

Versions of the polygon reduction are available for Silicon Graphics Iris workstations and IBM PC compatibles. Additionally, interfaces are available for importing reduced model databases into Alias, SoftImage and Wavefront graphics programs. The polygon reduction program is incorporated with current releases of Cyberware's Echo software; existing Echo users can obtain an upgrade for $500.

Cyberware 3D scanners capture an object's shape and color in 13 seconds, without touching the object. The resulting 3D model is displayed instantly on a graphics workstation, where the model can be resized, measured, combined with other models, and edited in a variety of ways. Scanned objects can also be reproduced using automated milling machines or rapid prototyping systems.

Cyberware scanners are used in applications such as artistic product design, CAD/CAM, research, animations and special effects for film, reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, medical appliance design, anthropometry/ergonomics, and personal portrait sculpture.