Interactive 3D environment delivers West End without leaving home

Monday, Dec 7, 2009 4:00 AM

LONDON, U.K., December 7, 2009- London Evening Standard readers will get more than their newspaper today: They'll be offered a DVD from a company called Near that transports them to the West End of London - including Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus and other famous destinations - without leaving their homes. Others around the world will be able to experience the virtual gateway to London's West End by downloading it through the Near web site.

Near's interactive environment, called NearLondon, is made possible by the convergence of 3D laser scanning, digital modeling and gaming technologies. At the center of the development process is Geomagic Studio software, which made it possible for Near to convert 3D scans into realistic digital models of the West End.

An immersive experience

NearLondon is the first in a planned series of interactive 3D cityscapes from Near. The content created by Near differs from that of search engines and mapping programs by providing a totally immersive 3D experience for visitors and vendors.

Visitors to NearLondon can stroll the streets and window shop at exclusive West End establishments. Clicking on items in NearLondon shop windows deep-links visitors to those same items on the store's web site, where they can preview goods, receive additional information, and make purchases. Many retailers are planning to create their own immersive 3D environments behind their shop doors.

In addition to shopping, NearLondon is designed to enable theatres, sporting venues, restaurants and other commercial concerns to directly engage customers within the 3D world.

Data capture at street level

The NearLondon experience is part of a growing movement to capture physical objects with 3D laser scanners and transform them into accurate 3D digital models. The approach has proven valuable in accelerating product development, improving quality, and providing better patient care. For Near, the goal was a richer user experience.

Near began the London project by scanning streets and buildings with a Leica HDS 6000 laser scanner, which has an accuracy of +/- 1mm. Hundreds of buildings were scanned, as part of an ongoing process to recreate the whole of London's Zone One. The current Near London virtual environment covers 8km (approximately five miles) of linear streetscape.

Data from the Leica scanner was imported into Geomagic Studio software as point clouds - 3D coordinate data that represents points on the surfaces of a physical object. Geomagic enabled Near to automatically register the different scans, repair and optimize meshes for the model, smooth curves, perform complex hole filling, and create accurate 3D polygon models of the West End.

Processing huge data sets

The biggest challenge in the NearLondon project was the size of the data generated by the laser scanner. There are more than 1,000 data sets in the initial cityscape, each approximately 500 MB in size.

"Geomagic Studio was able to handle the very large data sets we had and model them with high accuracy," says Marc Tafler, lead 3D artist and creative director for Near. "Its decimation capabilities [the ability to reduce the size of data sets while retaining accuracy] are the most advanced I've seen."

Transcending physical/digital divide

With NearLondon, people can get an insight into what tools such as Geomagic Studio are doing elsewhere for product design and engineering: Enriching lives and processes by transcending the divide between the physical and digital worlds.

About Near

Near's ambitions extend to modeling the world's most compelling city destinations and turning them into virtual environments for business, socializing and exploration. The founders have complementary business backgrounds: Tor McClaren in advertising and television leadership roles while co-founder Alex Wrottesley enjoyed a high-flying marketing career in Europe, Russia and Asia. For more information, visit www.nearglobal.com.

 

About Geomagic

Geomagic (www.geomagic.com) is a global company dedicated to advancing and applying 3D technology for the benefit of humanity. Geomagic’s scanning and design software solutions are used to capture and model 3D content from physical objects, organically sculpt complex shapes, and prepare products for manufacturing. In addition, the company produces powerful 3D metrology and inspection software that verifies dimensional quality by comparing as-built products to master designs. Geomagic’s Sensable Phantom haptic devices simulate the sense of touch in a digital environment. 

Geomagic’s software and hardware are utilized by world-class customers in a variety of industries, including aerospace, automotive, medical, consumer products, toys, collectibles, coindesign, jewelry, fine art, heritage restoration, research, education, mold making, entertainment, training and surgical simulation. In fact, some of the world’s leading companies and research organizationsuse Geomagic software, including Ford, BMW,Boeing, Harley DavidsonTimberland, Mattel/Fisher Price, Lego, Pratt & WhitneyNASA, Schneider Electronic, 3M, Danaher and Invisalign. Geomagic is based in Research Triangle Park, N.C., USA, with an office in Boston, subsidiaries in Europe and Asia, and channel partners worldwide.

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Media Contact:

Rachael Taggart
Geomagic, Inc.
+(1) 919-474-0135
Contact Rachael