The future of 3D Technology

by Kelly Walsh on May 12, 2010

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A guest post providing informative insights into the future of 3D computer technology.

This week, I welcome Andrew Barras, Instructional Designer at Full Sail University, and author of the blog “Education Stormfront“. Andrew has been a 3D Modeler, Computer Programmer, Web Designer, and Professor over the course of the last 15 years. His post discusses the future of 3D graphics technology.

The potential for 3D video applications in education has received increasing media attention lately. Thanks, Andrew, for sharing your knowledge about this topic with us – it sounds like what’s coming down the road with this technology is going to be pretty amazing.

If you have had an opportunity to see Second Life, you probably don’t have a very good opinion about 3d graphics.  While it has improved over the years, Second Life is designed to run on as many computers as possible, not just the ones with the big graphics cards.  Therefore it has to be somewhat primitive looking.  Still, I would like to lay out a case for not dismissing 3d, because you haven’t seen anything yet.

I believe when we get to the year 2020, we will look at our world and one of the biggest changes will be that 3d graphics are everywhere.  Between Augmented Reality and true Virtual Reality this technology will transform the world.

Second Life isn’t state of the art.  It’s about five years behind actually.  If you want to see something closer to state-of-the-art in Virtual Environments, check out Blue Mars. This is based on a video game graphics engine and is very much improved over Second Life.  Naturally, not all computers can run it, but every year the average machine is getting faster.  In fact, the iPhone almost has enough computing power to run it (but not the right software).

If you want to see what 3d graphics will look like in 10 years, look at Hollywood.  Interactive 3d graphics are about five years behind what Hollywood can do as Special Effects today.  Therefore in less than 10 years, we can expect truly photorealistic (meaning lifelike) graphics that we can overlay on top of reality.  This will blur what we consider real.

So how long do we have to wait?  In order to do true interactive Raytracing, which is the biggest difference between what Hollywood does and what video games can do, you need a processor with 16 cores in it.  You can now buy processors that have 8 cores.  So we are almost there.  We will most likely see this sometime in 2011.  Now that doesn’t automatically get us photorealism, but according to Nvidia’s own timetable, we should probably see graphics that are nearly photorealistic in 2012.

The other problem is not just graphics quality, but displays.  The human eye is an amazing object. According to this paper, a 1080p HD TV can display 2.07 million Pixels.  In those terms, the eye can see approximately 14.83 million pixels. Sounds like we are a long way off right?  Not exactly. Japanese researchers are working on UHDTV.  As in Ultra High Definition.  The best way to describe watching a UHDTV display is that it will be like looking out a window.  You won’t be able to see the pixels anymore.

Think back to what you were doing in the year 2000.  Since then the iPod and iPhone were invented.  Facebook and Twitter weren’t yet thought of.  What we are going to see in the next 10 years will make the last 10 look like slow motion, and 3d graphics are going to be a huge part of that.  I, for one, can’t wait!

Stop by and check out Andrew’s blog, Education Stormfront, today.

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Google’s Liquid Galaxy Project – too cool not to share
Telepresence (this is just too cool!)
What’s going on with Virtual Worlds in Education today?

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer, and an adjunct faculty member, at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Class Workshop in a Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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