January 24, 2011

SPAR 2011 keynote preview

Sarah Oeftering algorithmic design

So, yes, obviously I’m pimping our upcoming conference a little bit (cough, March 21-24 in Houston, cough), but I’ve got to tell you I’m pretty excited for Brian Mathews’ keynote address at SPAR International after getting off the phone with him a hour ago. 

As VP at Autodesk Labs, he’ll tell you he’s a generalist, but that’s an underselling. He doesn’t just know a little about a lot. He knows a lot about a lot. 

He’s still putting together his presentation, and it could go in one of many different directions, but here are some of the topics he’s considering touching upon:

• Video remoting technology. Basically, if you have massive data sets, move the people to the data by sending them video. Or, to make is sound catchy, “take point clouds to the cloud.” Instead of moving around those massive data sets, just make them available wherever you go. There are bandwidth issues, obviously, but the possibilities for serving up data to the iPad, etc., are pretty exciting.

• The use of scan data for rapid energy modeling. As green building and sustainability continue to gain ground, how can laser scan and 3D data be put to better use?

Sarah Oeftering (algorithmicdesign.net) created this image using algorithmic design. What could you make with it?

• BRDF (or bidirectional reflectance distribution function): a mathematical description of materials that aids photo-realistic rendering of scenes and hyper-accurate modeling. It might also be applied in the automation of modeling, as another piece of information to add to simple shape and location when the computer makes its informed guess about what it’s looking at in a point cloud.

Notes Mathews: “The stuff we do with BRDF is a terabyte of data per square centimeter. That’s the kind of data you can capture.”

• Human-computer interfaces. This is the world of Kinect and other 3D imaging readers and how they can make it easier for humans to control the technology around them. 

• Biomimicry. Essentially, using biology to inspire design. How can we use these scans of living things in the real world to help us create new solutions to old problems? Check this Ted video about biomimicry if you want to get excited about it.

• Algorithmic design. I’m actually still wrapping my head around this one, but Mathews said the words, I started googling, and cool things happened

Basically, if you’re interested in having your mind expanded, make sure not to miss Mathews’ address. He’s seen some very interesting things back in the lab and has ideas about how you might use them to improve what it is you’re doing.

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