Taking a Deep View of U3D
[ Back ]   [ More News ]   [ Home ]
Taking a Deep View of U3D

About this Issue….
A weekly news magazine featuring important industry news profiles, a summary of recently published AEC product and company news, customer wins, and coming events. Brought to you by AECCafe.

Welcome to AECWeekly! Perhaps you've been wondering where that 3D viewing capability that is in Adobe Acrobat 7.0 came from. We heard from Bentley earlier this year about the 3D within PDF that they are offering in their next product releases. The 3D format that they publish out is Intel's Universal 3D (U3D), a format shared by Acrobat 7.0. The engine in Acrobat 7.0 that reads these U3D files and views them in PDF is Right Hemisphere's Deep View technology. Read more about it in this week's Industry News.

To send contributions to those who were affected by the Indian Ocean Tsunami, take a look at this site: Network for Good: Help Support Disaster Relief in Southeast Asia

AECWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, New Products, Around the Web, and Upcoming Events.

AECWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me at Managing Editor

Best wishes,
Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Taking a Deep View of U3D
By Susan Smith

Perhaps you've been wondering where that 3D viewing capability that is in Adobe Acrobat 7.0 came from. We heard from Bentley earlier this year about the 3D within PDF that they are offering in their next product releases. The 3D format that they publish out is Intel's Universal 3D (U3D), a format shared by Acrobat 7.0. The engine in Acrobat 7.0 that reads these U3D files and views them in PDF is Right Hemisphere's Deep View technology.

Once 3D content is in PDF, just about anyone can look at it. But before that can happen, someone needs to translate those native 3D files into the U3D format. Right Hemisphere's Deep Exploration client software-which supports over 120 data formats- can translate 3D CAD files from their native formats into a number of different formats, one of them being U3D. Though Right Hemisphere's 3D viewer is embedded in Acrobat 7.0, the company's Deep Exploration software is purchased separately. This application is what allows Acrobat 7.0 users to get 3D CAD data preparation, translation, authoring, and publishing capabilities.

For users who need an enterprise level solution with management capabilities, Right Hemisphere offers Deep Server software. Like its client counterpart, Deep Server includes access to popular native CAD formats as well as a range of specific application formats such as AEC, medical and scientific.

The majority of Right Hemisphere's customers are in the mechanical sector. However, they do have a number of AEC customers as well. One of the first steps of Right Hemisphere's collaboration with Adobe is to unlock 3D so that it can be used as freely as 2D.

According to CEO Michael Lynch, the difference between what Right Hemisphere offers and what companies like Bentley are offering in the way of 3D within PDF is that Bentley is offering an engineer-to-engineer solution. Right Hemisphere is selling to downstream departments, such as training, technical documentation, marketing, and other product support departments for non-engineering applications that can benefit from re-using CAD data.

Right Hemisphere will be providing server based workflows that allow you to take your entire model databases and convert them into PDFs for a number of application uses. “We specialize in things like technical documentation, marketing and support applications, whereas a number of the CAD vendors' applications are designed so someone else can see it and mark it up,” explained Lynch.

These days, many solutions are being designed so that non-CAD users can access engineering and CAD data, without having a seat of a given software. Various viewers, such as Autodesk's DWF Viewer and Bentley View, facilitate this type of non-CAD activity. For those outside CAD departments, access to 3D files in a PDF format can be much more useful than 2D.

“Our workflows will be focused on the external organization at an enterprise level, so you don't have to have a CAD seat to author it. We'll go talk to their model database and create forms, technical documents, and training materials.”

In the past, said Lynch, it wasn't possible to know that if you made a support document the person on the other end would be able to read it because they required proprietary viewers. “So what this means is that the document format that is the most ubiquitous on the planet, PDF, is an interchange format and now has a 3D capability. Because it's our technology we will have a great capability of publishing into it, and then it means you now have a workflow that manufacturers can count on, for distributing RFQs, documentation materials, etc., based on their CAD data. They know that it will work and that their customers can use it, and then they can solve a lot of business problems that have been [previously] unsolvable.”

An important part of Right Hemisphere's business is to repurpose CAD data. “When we sell to customers who need to keep airplanes running in Iraq, we sell them enterprise solutions that connect back to their CAD databases and automatically repurpose the data for use in training applications, and automatically update those training applications as the design modifies,” explained Lynch. “Recently Sikorsky Aircraft was sending modifications to their aircraft over there, so we helped them to put together the capability to get that data from CAD, put it in a training application and get it off to the people in the field. You don't do that with a CAD application. Another example is for marketing: automotive manufacturers spend $100 million each year photographing their cars. So we provide them with a process that allows them to use CAD data to make digital, photographically real images. Technical documentation - an average aircraft has 50,000 drawings on it, and they cost between $200 and $500 each to do by hand. With a server-based process that allows you to do that directly from the CAD data, input it into PDF, add 3D if you want it, etc, we can do it for pennies a drawing.”

With 3D solid modeling, automotive has gone from 40 months to 20 months in the design cycle, yet they've languished at 12 months in the post-CAD support cycle, noted Lynch. “All of the materials for supporting the product still take them 12 months. There's a massive opportunity to optimize the supportability cycles which the CAD applications weren't designed for and don't do really well.”

Right Hemisphere provides importers for a number of AEC formats so people can do complete interactive walkthroughs and maintenance on oil rigs, for example, for big customers like Halliburton.

What is Right Hemisphere's format that houses the data?
“There's an internal data model that is really robust-we can read anything from solids to motion capture data to soft body animation to polygons to voxels to anything. That is the strength of the core system,” Lynch pointed out. “Point cloud data is just another form of data that we can read and when we read it we can get the rest of the wagon wheel of spokes as to where we can go with that data. What that means is that for big manufacturers who are looking at ways to optimize business processes, we can connect lots of different data sources into automated updatable workflows.

We have an SDK for those who want something beyond the 120 formats that the product is already able to be read.”

The products work with both Oracle and SQL Server. Deep Server has a scalable architecture based on .NET, SOAP and XML protocol so it can connect to almost any enterprise application. Built to connect to big databases and create those workflows, Deep Server is really an application server for graphical data.

Right Hemisphere is positioning itself as value added intelligent publishing on top of the CAD data that exists. “We can get a lot of data very quickly and do the kinds of optimizations necessary to visualize it with our relationship,” concluded Lynch. “With Adobe, we now have additional end to end enterprise authoring tools and publishing capabilities for all the non-CAD workflows that exist.”

To clarify the two different 3D / PDF processes: 1) in the engineer specific workflow, the engineers have MicroStation open and they hit 'make a PDF,' to create the document which can then be sent off for review or other purposes; and 2) downstream users search and view the graphical asset management database, such as within Deep Server, to add further interactivity, animation or even lighting and texture. Once done, they can then use Right Hemisphere's Deep Exploration or Deep Server software tools to use these files in a variety of product support applications. According to Right Hemisphere, with their software, individuals don't need a copy of MicroStation or other CAD software and it becomes a much simpler process to open a file, save as a U3D and publish into the PDF.

Deep Exploration starts at $149 and can go up to $2,500 depending upon what adapters you buy.
Deep Server is an enterprise product sold by sales reps and pricing varies.


Meridian Systems, an enterprise solution provider for optimizing the plan, build and operate phases of real estate, construction and other infrastructure programs, has formalized a partnership agreement with Tecnoserve FZ-LLC, professional services provider headquartered in Dubai Internet City and serving the AEC industry in United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Tecnoserve will distribute the Prolog Application Suite as well as Proliance and provide professional consulting, training and technical support services for these offerings.

Cadopolis.com has aligned with Cad Script Generator to offer an economical yet powerful script creation utility tool. Cad Script Generator automates the process of inventing scripts, through the use of various pull down menus and functions. The utility can be used to design and essentially automate any process that involves AutoCAD commands. The implementation of scripting technology to eliminate redundant tasks has become a core facet to the profitability of small and large companies alike.


On the subject of Adobe, Adobe Systems Incorporated and HP announced they are expanding their relationship to help technical professionals -- including architects, engineers and construction (AEC) professionals -- improve collaboration inside and outside their organizations and more effectively drive document-based work to completion. The announcement of the expanded relationship means that there will be a new offering for customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) which will bundle Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Professional software with HP Designjet large format printers.

Readers might remember that last year, HP and Adobe came together with Bentley Systems, Inc., SolidWorks, Intel, Autodesk and other vendors to advance a proposed industry standard called PDF/E, which aimed to simplify the printing and electronic exchange of intelligent documents in engineering workflows as well as provide a framework for incorporating complex data types such as 3D in PDF files.

Fakespace Systems Inc. announced that its established European operations have been incorporated as Fakespace Europe LTD in the United Kingdom and Fakespace Europe GmbH in Germany. Fakespace Systems is a provider of immersive visualization systems and software, with headquarters in Marshalltown, Iowa in the United States and additional offices in Canada, France and across the USA. The CAD Society will hold its next meeting at the NDES conference as part of Manufacturing Week, that takes place at McCormick Place in Chicago, March 7th -10th, 2005. The actual meeting will be held in the press room at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9, 2005. The press room is located on Level 1, Room S103B.

Graphisoft announces that its ArchiCAD 3D virtual modeling solution is the only design platform to have passed both phases of the electronic regulation-checking system in Singapore, which is gaining wider global acceptance. This introduces new advantages for practices designing in 3D, where an IFC-based code-checking system can greatly speed up the code compliance process and unify it through one stop of government contact.

Autodesk Inc. announced that retailer organizations worldwide including PETCO, Woolworths, Ltd., Australia, and Westwood Contractors, a national general contractor that works with leading retail brands have made Autodesk(R) Buzzsaw(R) project management service their primary platform for the construction of new stores and renovation of existing ones. Autodesk Buzzsaw helps design teams standardize processes and collaborate in near real time as they create, manage and share thousands of drawings and related project documents.

Informative Graphics Corp. (IGC), developer of commercial software products for content visualization, secure publishing and collaboration, announces its line of Brava!(R) content visualization and Net-It(R) content publishing products providing direct support for Microsoft(R) SharePoint(TM) technologies.

AVEVA , a supplier of engineering IT solutions, congratulated Arauco (Celulosa Arauco y Constitucion S.A.) on its ongoing successful management of its US $1 billion Itata sawmill and woodpulp plant project. The project is using AVEVA's Plant Design Management System (PDMS) Global software to link its offices round the world.

Intergraph Corporation has announced that Clough Limited, one of Australia's largest engineering firms, is implementing the SmartPlant(r) Foundation integration and workflow management hub from the Process, Power & Marine division. Clough is initially implementing SmartPlant Foundation in a phased program for project engineering information and document management, data handover to clients and engineering information visualization. SmartPlant Foundation integrates Clough's existing software investment, which includes virtually all Intergraph design engineering tools and the MARIAN procurement and supply chain management system. First installations are at Clough offices in Australia and Indonesia. The engineering IT project will ultimately create the SmartPlant Enterprise environment to help reduce risk and increase project delivery effectiveness for Clough's international business.

New Products

AEC Innovations, LLC announced the launch of its online building code website, GoCodes.com . This new website has over 30 of the most commonly used building codes in America and are available for use on this subscription-based service. These codes include the 2003 I-Codes, 2000 I-Codes, NY State Codes, various Accessibility Codes, and soon the 1997 UBC and UFC. Subscribing individuals or companies will have access to these codes 24 hours a day from anywhere in the world.

Dexter + Chaney will showcase the newest version of its Forefront(R) Construction Management Software at ConExpo-Con/Agg 2005 March 15-19 at the Las Vegas Convention Center (booth #S-17119). Forefront Version 12 offers hundreds of new features, including a new SQL database structure, the ability to track meeting minutes in its Project Management module and two new features in its Document Imaging software. Version 12 also integrates Forefront with Microsoft Outlook.

Around the Web

Professor Examines Practical Ways to Use PDAs in Classroom , Kansas State University, March 1, 2005, Newswise - K-State physics professors are developing ways to deliver to their students "nearly individualized information" that allow them to communicate with their students and the students with each other digitally.

Middle School Students Build a Bunch of Better Cities , By Jennifer Vishnevsky, March 1, 2005, USA TODAY--If some of today's middle-school students have their way, people in the future would move around using giant bubbles or spherical vehicles called Magnepods powered by magnetically charged devices. And their world would tap nuclear fusion for energy and use holograms for communications. To give shape to their visions, the students came to Arlington, VA, recently bearing scale models of their cities at the National Engineers Week Future City Competition.

Post-Tsunami Thailand Yields Lessons for Coastal Construction Johns Hopkins University, February 24, 2005, Newswise- An inspection of Thai villages and ports struck by tsunami waves has uncovered some engineering lessons that might reduce casualties and destruction in future oceanic upheavals.

Upcoming Events

Smart Cards in eGovernment 2005
Date: March 9 - 11, 2005
Place: Renaissance Hotel
999 9 th Street, NW, Washington, DC USA
This annual conference brings together the leaders from government and industry together in an interactive, open forum to discuss and debate the important business and technical issues involving government adoption of smart cards. This year’s conference will offer a pre-conference educational workshop for an in-depth look at how the technology works and how it will be used by the federal government. Also, vendors and agencies will fill an exhibit hall with a showcase of much of the technology that will be used in current and future government and commercial rollouts. And once again, the conference will host the Federal Smart Card Users Group regular open meeting that is held every other month and is free to anyone who wishes to attend and hear from the government leaders about how their agency’s programs are advancing. Lunch will be served in the open exhibit hall for those who wish to stay after the meeting concludes and the conference program resumes. This will make for a unique conference experience and one very different from other similar conference events.


CeBit 2005
Date: March 10 - 16, 2005
Place: Hannover, Germany
CeBIT appeared with a significantly optimized show structure and a number of new high-class events in its supporting program.

CeBIT 2004 rounded off by an extensive program of congresses and presentations as well as numerous special events.


Alias’ MotionBuilder and Maya “Rated ‘P’ for PLAY” Tour
Date: March 10, 2005
Place: 747 Howard Street
Moscone West Convention Center, ROOM 2016, San Francisco, CA 94013 USA
Come see the leading tools in the industry for your gaming pipeline. Alias MotionBuilder and Maya are two products that can work seamlessly together or completely independently within your current or next gen. pipeline. Streamline your workflow or have the flexibility to transfer assets between other 3D packages. Alias is pleased to offer one stop shopping for your game environment. Stay for one session or hang out with us for the evening.