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Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

A Look Inside Visualization Software Tools

3D-DOCTOR
Photo courtesy of Able Software Corp.
3D-DOCTOR extracts information from CT or MRI images using image segmentation and creates 3-D mesh models for analysis.
Ted Wu, Andrew Sharpe and Bill Panepinto
Ted Wu, Andrew Sharpe and Bill Panepinto
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By Barry Mazor

Virtual engineering is a user-centered process that provides a collaborative framework to integrate all of the models, data and decision-support tools needed for good engineering design. Using established virtual reality visualization hardware, virtual engineering is pushing the application of that hardware from interactive post-processing of computational data to virtual design, analysis, operation and optimization.

WHAT'S NEEDED NOW?
Advanced Imaging: Many of the advances in visualization capability have been driven by new hardware-derived rendering power -- as software moved to more volumetric, more real-time, more collaborative and interactive models. Is hardware robustness still the central technology limitation on your work, or would you point to other limitations as areas most in need of further development? What is on your visualization wish list?

Ted Wu, Able Software: For 3-D imaging applications, CPU power has improved significantly over the past few years, but it is still not satisfactory for creating complex 3-D models in real time, from volumetric images, such as CT or MRI. However, the main limitation is still on the software side. More robust algorithms for image segmentation and pattern recognition are needed to speed up the processing and improve the accuracy level.

Andrew Sharpe, IO Industries: The situation is much different now than it was five years ago, when finding the right hardware combination was often a black art, and developing the software for it often left you with a black eye. Advances in processor performance and graphics hardware, coupled with new camera interface standards, have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated hardware as the limiting factor in many application areas. That said, we are still years away from overcoming hardware limitations in applications involving high-speed imaging. The computing requirements imposed by today's high-data rate sensor technology have widened the gap over the ability of standard computer technology to satisfy it.


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