March 07, 2005
Taking a Deep View of U3D
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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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.

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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.”

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