Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Capturing OpenGL data for prototyping

Recently, we had a blog about an open source 3D scanner. Here is another opportunity in that area. A lot of 3D information banging around the internet is in OpenGL format. Now you can grab 3D descriptions out of those visualisations for prototyping and other uses.

OGLE (i.e. OpenGLExtractor) is a software package by Eyebeam R&D that allows for the capture and re-use of 3D geometry data from 3D graphics applications running on Microsoft Windows. It works by observing the data flowing between 3D applications and the system's OpenGL library, and recording that data in a standard 3D file format. In other words, a 'screen grab' or 'view source' operation for 3D data.

The primary motivation for developing OGLE is to make available for re-use the 3D forms we see and interact with in our favorite 3D applications. Video gamers have a certain love affair with characters from their favorite games; animators may wish to reuse environments or objects from other applications or animations which don't provide data-level access; architects could use this to bring 3D forms into their proposals and renderings; and digital fabrication technologies make it possible to automatically instantiate 3D objects in the real world.

This might be of interest:

Taken from a videogame and converted over to "solid" CAD. This was done in an attempt to alert some of my fellow industrial designers that real products - the one's they design - may be more vulnerable to piracy than they believe; that the tables are turning and consumers are increasingly calling the shots. First it's happened with music, now it's happening with video, and before long it'll be tangible products (one reason I follow this project; though not a primary one).

Also, I'd point out that for some people, capturing the data is perfectly allowed. For example, Second Life cedes IP to the virtual world's users, but there is no "Export Model As" feature in the client. Unfortunately.
I think teenagers are likely to be early adopters of Reprap if we are careful in how we put the package together. Some of them are going to want to create more cool, personalised robot projects than you can get with the Meccano-like VEX robotics system...

Others are going to want to grab characters and artifacts out of their PC games or to create characters for their Dungeons and Dragons sessions. I can see a trade in pre-made controllers and motors building up plus a repackaging business in getting polymers like CAPA 6800 into smaller, more affordable portions.
Agree. And it'll be interesting to see just how far down the chain things move. I keep imagining a device that takes waste material and uses one of the new biological conversion processes being developed to create the raw material for a RepRap device. At that point where does the "value" go? Perhaps into the easily-pirated 3D data that will flood a 3D internet with the emergence and proliferation of projects like Croquet.
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