Euclideon and Unlimited Detail: no cookies for you…yet

A couple of weeks ago I ran a story on a potential new 3D engine called Unlimited Detail. I was particularly intrigued on the information supplied because of its claim of massively increased levels of detail – something that’s crucial in areas like simulation for the sciences, education and health professions.

The feedback on that initial story was interesting. Like the wider reaction in the gaming and IT industries, there was overwhelming scepticism toward the claims Euclideon were making. I even had one trusted friend who knows a bit in the area say “I can’t believe you ran the story – his stuff has been debunked”. Not being technically competent in the mechanics of polygons or voxels, I could only shrug my shoulders and say that there seemed to be something in this and perhaps the approach was so disruptive that it challenged the mindset of most people. Or – the criticism was legitimate.

Since then, the brains behind the operation, Bruce Dell, has taken part in a 40-minute video interview to rebut some of the criticisms put forward. The video (shown below) is effective in its aim of putting to bed some key criticisms, including the lack of shading or animation in the videos shown.

The video also shows very clearly how aware Euclideon are of the criticisms being made. Some time is taken to rebut line by line the criticisms made by Minecraft’s Notch. Dell then goes on to strongly emphasise that the proof is in the final baked cookies, and that currently people are making criticisms based on a partially cooked product – albeit one that Euclideon allowed to be sampled via their original videos. Having learnt from that, the assertion is being made now that there’ll be no more taste-testing until the technology is complete.

Anyway, do spend the time having a look for yourself:

Other highlights for me included some more distant history on Dell and his drive to develop the engine, some interesting insights into the reaction from games companies and other corporates to the technology, and how Euclideon is now being funded. The real-time demo is the icing on the cake.

Over to you: do you remain cynical, and if so, what are your concerns? For what it’s worth this video confirms to me that the cynics may actually be quite wrong. Bruce Dell and the team at Euclideon may not be the Messiah of 3D environments (although I wouldn’t rule it out), but they don’t seem to be naughty boys either.

I for one am fascinated to see what the next 18 months brings.

Unlimited Detail: simulation implications

I ran across a fascinating video via New World Notes, that shows an alternate way of rendering 3D environments. The seven-minute video provides a fascinating (albeit hyperbole-filled) overview of the atom-based approach, called Unlimited Detail.

The driving force behind the project is Queensland, Australia-based Bruce Dell, working for an outfit called Euclideon (whose website is unavailable strangely).

Before I go on any further, you should have a look at the video yourself:

One more external pointer: Popsci covers the issue well, but it’s worth reading the comments on that article to pick up on some of the scepticism around about Unlimited Detail.

Of course, whether Unlimited Detail is a near reality or a pipe dream is partly a moot point: it still raises some interesting points for me on how enhancing the current approach to graphical detail is pivotal to the success of 3D environments in a range of areas, including my pet topic of clinical simulation. Until there’s the ability to replicate complex behaviours or procedures in a graphically realistic way, true simulation will remain problematic in these environments.

Let’s take even a ‘simple’ procedural simulation like inserting an endotracheal tube (ETT). The need for graphical reality is critical if any attempt is to be made to translate the practice to the physical world environment – the state of the ‘patient’, their position on the bed, the anatomical correctness of their trachea, the flexibility of the tube and so on. That;s why I’m encouraged by developments like Unlimited Detail.

Of course the real test is whether it sees the light of day in environments accessible to the general public.

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