There is pretty much no way for me to say that the Hyperloop has anything to do with my 3D blog. I don't care. This is one of the coolest technologies going and since it will be happening in 3D space, I'm going to count that as good enough. So, what is the Hyperloop and why should we be interested in it? Read on and see why this idea is crazy enough, it just might work. This post will explore the back of the envelope business case for the hyperloop and argue that we are ready to move on to the next step in testing it's economic and practical feasibility.
[Today is a brief aside from the 3D world. ]
I miss the old LinkedIn Pulse.
Recently, in an ill-advised attempt to free up some storage space on my iPhone, I deleted the old Pulse app thinking that I would bring it back up after I had finished videotaping my son's baseball game. Well that was a mistake. I came to find out that my old LinkedIn Pulse app was grandfathered through the end of this year but that there is a new Pulse in town and I was told it was better. That is not true. This Pulse is now a curated shell of the old vibrant app.
Back when I was at VeriSign, we had a very similar product which was new at the time, a newsfeeder service that allowed you to crawl the web and find just about any news article that you wanted based on the type of news that you liked. It was ultimately done in by, among other things, a lawsuit brought by one of the large news services who rejected the company's fair use defense. I always wondered how the folks at Pulse had managed to deal with that issue. I wonder now if they ultimately didn't and that's why we now get this curated mini list of articles that LinkedIn wants me to read.
That is not at all what I want. I like flipping through the old Pulse, which is still on my iPad, to decide which of the many articles from my various favorite web sources I want to read. That gave me the sense that I was choosing where to focus my reading time and gave me so many more options than I get now.
Frankly what's left barely has any pulse left at all.
I'm always looking for ways to get things done more easily. I turned that desire onto a project that needs a photorealistic 3D environment. Thinking that with all of the scanners and high res cameras out there, there must be a straightforward way to pull a real environment (think a room, set of buildings or beautiful mountains) into a 3D game engine, such as Unreal or Unity. Turns out I was wrong.
I looked at over 30 separate hardware-based approaches, [See my recent post entitled Putting the Reality in Virtual Reality] and none of them would do exactly what I wanted. In the interest of moving the discussion forward on this topic -- How can you pull reality into a 3D game engine? -- I am offering my list of the elements of an ideal reality capture system. I am all for hearing your comments.
The Ideal Reality Capture System (according to me)
There are at least six major types of reality capture system out there now: 2D panoramic, 2D spherical, photogrammetry, 3D stereoscopic, light field array, and LIDAR mesh with an HDR photo overlay.
Questions and observations I have...
So my friend Mike and I were talking about the best way to bring the real world into 3D game engines, like Unity and Unreal. Mike's been a game developer for a long time and founded GAME-U, a terrific after-school program designed to teach kids how to design and build their own video games. Wanting to know more, I researched the available options and it turns out that there are a whole lot of choices. I have pulled together a list of those options. They span the range from simple fish-eye camera lenses to a rig packed with 14 Red cameras and a LIDAR sensor.
From my perspective they all come with some form of compromise. Some are 2D only, others stereoscopic 3D, few have what I would call real 3D and even the ones that do involve serious post-processing or provide a geometry that leaves game developers deciding it may still be easier to draw the environment the way they always have before. This feels like a category of hardware/software systems on the verge of true greatness and utility in light of the impending VR tsunami, but not quite there yet.
In a future post I will offer my views on the elements of the ideal reality capture system. For now, please enjoy the following (pretty close to) comprehensive list of reality capture systems: