The arrival of 3D computer graphics is rapidly changing how we see the world. It helps us visualize concept cars and new mobile technologies, and it allows us to improve design, develop better UX and showcase products, all without needing to manufacture a physical prototype, first.
Relying on many of the same algorithms as 2D vector graphics, 3D visualization creates a three-dimensional representation of geometric data. Building models, adding textures and developing animations are just a few benefits. In short, it’s making for more engaged, more contextual visual experiences across many sectors.
Here are six seriously cool ways to use 3D computer graphics, inside and outside the automotive industry.
1. Improving surgery in the medical sector
3D computer graphics and detailed modelling offer surgeons and clinicians a new way to learn about anatomy. By using virtual reality headsets, trainee doctors can visualize anatomical illustrations in real-time 3D and even engage with their virtual environment.
‘The ability to see an anatomical structure as if it were right there in front of you and even touch and interact with things is a huge advantage over 2D static illustrations,’ explains Matt Briggs, a 3D Medical Illustrator, in this article. ‘I’m still amazed every time I use a virtual reality system and it’s difficult not to see the amazing potential that VR and AR has in terms of medical education.’
3D computer graphics and virtual reality headsets mean that trainee surgeons are able to leave textbooks behind and learn first-hand, practicing procedures in the virtual world without endangering a human subject. The stereoscopic nature of VR and AR adds depth to these visualizations, too, helping doctors completely immerse themselves in safe, simulated training environments.
‘I think there is now the opportunity to explore and experiment with what VR and AR can offer in terms of medical training,’ explains Matt, ‘but also how it might be used in surgical planning and clinical pathways.’
2. 3D mapping in cars
Thanks to Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), car companies can create real-time 3D maps by aggregating sensor data from multiple sources and presenting it on a single interface in the digital cockpit.
Dynamic sensor data means that a driver can visualize the vehicle’s surroundings and receive more context about the environment they are driving in. By designing this in a tool like Kanzi Maps, automotive designers can completely customize the rendering and presentation of their maps, too, and form high-quality visuals that fit in and interact with the rest of the UI.
3. Innovating workspaces with dimensional interfaces
Companies like Varjo are revolutionizing how we work using 3D computer graphics and VR headsets. They’ve blended flat 2D applications with immersive spatial 3D experiences and produced a dimensional interface workspace - perfect for engineers, researchers, designers and other professionals who are pioneering a new reality with VR and XR.
This immersive way of working lets you see the changes you make in real time and mix different realities in ways we've never seen before. You can visualize your keyboard, blend realities in personalized ways and integrate your favourite design tools into its workspace, too. In the company’s words:
'We are creating a new kind of immersive computing where virtual, augmented and traditional realities become one.'
4. Using VR to showcase vehicle interiors
It’s not just the workplace that will benefit from immersive 3D graphics and VR. In the automotive sector, for example, designers are starting to use VR to showcase new car interior concepts to car manufacturers.
At CES 2020, Rightware demonstrated a VR application that used Varjo’s high-resolution VR headsets. We showcased automotive interiors by linking Autodesk’s VRED application and Kanzi studio, using Live Preview to render the HMIs within the dashboard in real time.
5. Augmented reality gaming experiences
Except for Pokémon Go, augmented reality gaming apps are yet to become the norm on smartphones. However, Apple recently released an ARKit which, as explained by the company, ‘combines device motion tracking, camera scene capture, advanced scene processing, and display conveniences to simplify the task of building an AR experience.’
As a result, gamers can take the front or back camera from an iOS device, point it into a space and - thanks to real-time 3D rendering - place a virtual object contextually in a scene. It does this by tracking the environment using orientation tracking, world tracking and plane detection (read more about how this works here). This allows developers to easily place 3D objects, which they’ve modelled on a plane, into the user’s view of the camera image on their device.
6. Real-time augmented reality for automotive head-up displays
Source: New Atlas
Modern cars are beginning to deploy 3D computer graphics to present real-time data in a more visual way to a driver.
Head-up displays allow a driver to understand and interpret key information in front of them on their windshield. This reduces the risk of distraction from looking at in-car dashboards.
As autonomous vehicles enter the market, head-up displays can leverage and present more data to drivers, too. This will be helpful in two ways. Firstly, drivers can remain aware about the hazards on the road and understand the intent behind any automated driving decision. And secondly, this information is available to use instantaneously should the driver need to regain control over the car quickly, reducing the time it takes to consider the hazard and react to it.
3D computer graphics: it’s only just beginning
Real-time 3D graphics is changing how information is presented across multiple industries. In automotive UX design, products like Kanzi make 3D visualization and digital cockpit development faster and easier, while offering more flexibility over the final outcome.
But 3D computer graphics is only one piece of the design process. There is animation to consider, transitions to build and UI logic to work out, too. As a consequence, a comprehensive software toolkit is essential.