October 29, 2012

Sensavis [1]

Sensavis creates 3D products with incredible realism and stop-
action manipulation. And their content runs on iPads.
Our first featured nextgen company is a remarkably skilled group out of Sweden, Sensavis. They offer products in the field of corporate and medical education, marketing, and visualization. I've explored their products and works-in-progress first hand and found myself nothing less than stunned. I have seen it all with regards to 3D educational products on the market, and this is the best imagery I have seen. More importantly, it works the way teachers and professors really want 3D learning to work, based on the end-of-project teacher interviews conducted following our year-and-a half case study in the Boulder Valley School District. In a past blog post about educational content, “What is eS3D,” I describe five of the key attributes of outstanding 3D educational content, and the Sensavis masters all five

Sensavis has produced an Interactive 3D Human Framework (I3HF), which approaches discovering the human body from a physiological perspective – meaning that you see fluids flowing and particle systems moving, not just 3D learning objects. Their presentations are so completely interactive, you can zoom endlessly from macro to micro, steer around, or choose from a navigation client to add slides or film into the model. If only they would create content for the high school market!

Sensavis' app, Heart Interactive, demonstrates
their use of simulation in rendered 3D.  Their
content is also produced in stereo 3D. 
One of the many efforts now underway at Sensavis is a high end "interactive 3D heart project.” This involves software that integrates Sensavis’ technology with real time data from a heart simulation developed jointly by the internationally respected Karolinska University Hospital and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. Using their product, Sensavis intends to "steer" the heart “in real time” in order to conduct various simulations, conditions, and treatment effects. (If you would like to glimpse at the quality of their visualizations, download the free Heart Interactive app from the App Store—search for 'Sensavis' or 'Heart Interactive' and you will find it easily.)

Sensavis’ remarkable vision, driven by CEO Magnus Arfors and a world-class development team, is grounded in several fundamental beliefs. First, Arfors suggests that “Humans were equipped to learn through experience. The closer we can get to an experience of a message, the closer we get to an understanding of that message (and in shorter time).” Interactivity is key to his notion of experience. Arfors explains: “Film is linear, yet interactive content is non-linear. You choose where you want to go.”   Arfors offers a simple formula for 3D success: “3D + interaction = understanding and recollection.” He reminds us: “Regardless whether the interactive 3D content is for general education, learning science, or used in marketing—it enhances understanding and stimulates the learning process in a way that the audience is engaged and remembers the experience and the messages.” Arfors’ theories translate well into practice. Two weeks ago, a professor used the Sensavis’ 3D In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) visualization in her lecture for 100 medical students at the Karolinska University Hospital. Arfors gleams: “This was their première for interactive 3D content and already the enthusiasm is spreading internally at the university.

Second, the strength of Sensavis’ approach and expertise asserts itself at the precise point where “IT, visualization, and academic competence meet.” He clarifies: “We strive for realism, both in movements and in visual quality (we put very high demands on our software). Most importantly, Arfors notes: “A key characteristic of our content is that we want to picture ‘alive’ environments, i.e., the human body in operation (physiology).”  

Third, Sensavis’ accomplishments are grounded in solid technological advantage. They have developed their own visualization engine. They have reliable hardware delivery platforms, including an auto-stereoscopic streaming solution that can be used for companies desiring to distribute education content to local sites, universities, or hospitals from a central server. And they are agile enough to take on special projects in the fields of science or education. (For example, Sensavis just completed a production focused on In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), visualizing the achievements behind the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (2010).

I have often stated that my personal vision is to make the world of teaching and learning a better place, to enable the kind of teaching that fully engages and challenges our 21st century learners. I believe Sensavis’ creativity clearly moves us in that direction. Sensavis can be reached at www.sensavis.com.

October 22, 2012

NextGen Educational 3D Content

The current generation of educationally focused content available in stereo 3D is very usable in schools. It is often quite impressive from the perspective of teachers and students.  (See my comprehensive list of all currently available educational stereo 3D content here.) The future, however, promises to be even better. Behind closed doors, content developers are working feverishly on the next generation of stereo 3D educational content. And I’m not talking about movies here. I am referring to software specifically designed to bring together as many of these characteristics as possible: tremendous artistry, solid curricular and educational fit, and practical and easy software delivery—all while aiming to leverage the real strengths of the stereo 3D medium in the classroom.
Future educational stereo 3D content (eS3D) offers these defining characteristics
Interestingly, these efforts are happening across the globe, not solely in the U.S. Over the last six months I have quietly reviewed the visions and products of a number of different companies. I’ve sat down with each of them, all the while thinking deeply about what’s happening with the coming generation of 3D educational content. The companies I plan to highlight in the coming series of posts are not the only firms that are working on nextgen stereo 3D for the educational market, but these companies offer a mouthwatering hint of what is now emerging. At the very least, this series presents a rare opportunity to delve into the minds and motives of some of the most inventive and promising 3D educational software developers in the world. 

October 15, 2012

San D (2)

As discussed in the previous post, 3D is really taking off in Asian and other emerging markets. Since many of our regular blog readers come from these emerging markets, I thought a thoughtful reminder, presented via a simple mystery, might be beneficial: Can you see anything peculiar in this snapshot of the first showing of Titanic 3D in Shanxi, China? Click on it to enlarge it. 
What's Wrong with this Picture?
Leonard Press, a well-known optometrist, recently observed in his blog that a number of people are watching the film without glasses.  He explains, when “you’re experiencing one of the 3Ds of stereoscopic 3D viewing—discomfort, dizziness, or lack of depth—one way to cope is to simply watch without the 3D glasses – but the experience is clearly not the same and most likely is out of focus due to the effects necessary to create 3D-ness for your movie-going neighbors.”
Again, and this time internationally speaking, our educational challenges remain constant. We know from the research that 3D is not harmful in any way. But some people do experience discomfort, which actually is an indication of underlying vision problems, not necessarily a problem with the 3D. For a complete resource on understanding the role of 3D in vision health and vision screening, see this well-travelled Future-Talk 3D post.

October 8, 2012

San D (1)

San D is how you say 3D in Mandarin Chinese. You see, that’s important to know these days. It’s because most of the interest in 3D entertainment and 3D TVs these days appears to be in China, followed by Western Europe and key emerging markets (Russia, Latin and South America, and the Middle East). Although TV sales across the world are generally in decline, some sources suggest upwards of 10-20 million 3D TVs will be sold in China this next year. I remember how high the interest was in 3D when I first spoke in Beijing at their first ever 3D Innovation Forum.

In the U.S., things are still different. U.S. sales of 3D TVs are lagging far behind. James Mathers, president of the Digital Cinema Society notes that, although “most major filmmakers have successfully embraced 3D,” 3D-ready TV sales are “abysmal” in the U.S. and “are only expected to reach the cumulative 7 million unit mark by the end of the year.” Norbert Hildebrand of Display Central (check out this website—it offers comprehensive one-stop information about all things 3D) agrees. He suggests that “the U.S. is actually a slow adopter of this new technology compared to other regions, like Europe and China. I also found it interesting that, during the well-attended 3D Entertainment Summit held in Hollywood in late September, one attendee observed that “Americans seem to have a bias against 3D compared to other countries.”

I continually get that same sense. Even in the education market. But I think the 'resistance' reasons are vastly different for the U.S. education marketplace. Educational 3D is not about 3D TV at all. In education, I think any perceived resistance is due to the tough recession facing schools (hopefully short-lived) and generational issues. By generational issues, I mean to say “kids want it.” Adults—not so much. Kids don’t mind the glasses—adults don’t know any better. For more background on this topic, please revisit my original post on this topic: On Youthful Shoulders. In the meantime, I still see innovators and pioneers in education showing keen interest in 3D. Don’t give up!

October 1, 2012

Panning for Gold (Part 3)

As my prospecting efforts come to an end for the summer, two more glittering specks of 3D gold (and one speck of silver) are visible in my virtual gold pan:

3D Printing
3D printing companies started to make a splash at various conferences this past summer. 3D printing is just another way for students working with rendered or stereo 3D design to bring their creations into the physical world. These systems are expensive, but their increased presence at conferences speaks to an interesting growth phenomenon.

The Korean Factor
A most refreshing customer experience during my gold panning efforts this summer occurred at InfoComm at the Korean Pavilion. In a 3D-dedicated area, they featured some of the finest 3D educational content (cultural and historical documentaries) I have ever seen. They were good. Very good. Visually compelling, not 3D dribble. I am not sure they know how good this content really is. I want to locate some of this content. Remember, 3D as a medium can only be explained, sold, or advanced well if we have great content in hand. I know we have many readers from Korea who frequent this blog. Can you help us identify this content? Can our Korean readers help reveal this content to the world?

Okay, this is not 3D. I know that. That’s why I said there was a speck of silver in my gold pan. (Yes, it is quite possible to pan for silver.) This software is so promising, that I must tell educators about it. DisplayNote is an Irish startup with a product designed to share, annotate, and communicate student displays across platforms and across devices. I can share my laptop screen to each device, share a device’s screen to my classroom projector so all students can see, see what students are working on when using their own devices, annotate non-destructively on top of my screen or theirs, and so on.
At various conferences, I saw large-district CIOs, major thought and opinion leaders, and journalists quietly interviewing the DisplayNote staff in one-off discussions. I haven’t seen so many power players quietly drawn to one booth in a very, very long time. Here is a video explanation of their product. The flexibility and potential of this product in the classroom—given its ability to support multiple platforms, multiple devices (think iPads and tablets), and even enhance the role of the traditional classroom projector and preferred pedagogical styles of teachers at the primary, secondary or higher education level—is noteworthy. A fleck of silver.