Volume 12, Number 25
18 April 2006

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This Week

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There's a course at Bilkent called Innovative Product Design and Development. Most of you have probably heard of it. But in case you haven't, the course can basically be described as an imitation of real life. You form a group, and this becomes your firm. You then develop a product and try to sell it on the market. This very imaginative and highly creative course is supervised by five instructors: Prof. Mehmet Baray, Assoc. Prof. Fatma Taşkın, Tarık Reyhan, Prof. Bülent Özgüç and Prof. Erdal Erel.

One of the products that has been developed in this course is 3RdEye, the project of the firm Integrated Reality Solutions (IRS). IRS was founded by six students: Cihangir Büyükataman (EE), Anıl Bayer (EE), Cihan Bilir (EE), Barış Korkut (CS), Hilal Zitouni (CS), Serdar Bozkurt (MAN) and Gülsün Hoşcanoglu (MAN).

Their project is a technological solution that is intended to enable users to view and interact with 3-D geometries in a real environment in a more tangible way. It sounds quite complicated, doesn’t it? I'll try to describe so it can be more easily understood.

These days, in order to model geometries in three dimensions, people are using computer programs. Those who model geometries want to "play" with those geometries as if they were real. The programs help you to rotate and revolve an object, and to zoom in and out to see every single detail.

3RdEye improves this process by enabling you to “hold” a geometry modeled on the computer in such a way that you can observe the geometry of a given object by simply changing your position. For example, imagine that you can hold an object on a marker platform (this platform is like a tray) and see it through a face-mounted visor (which is like eyeglasses through which you see the object). By moving the platform, you can approach the object and change its position, as if you were playing with a 3-D model in your hands.

The key concept in the 3RdEye project is augmented reality. This is a branch of computer graphics and image processing, and is similar to virtual reality. Although virtual reality was invented first, the concept of augmented reality has become more popular and applicable. One of its applications is Playstation’s iToy, in which a camera senses your motion and pastes you in a graphical environment.

What did I experience using 3RdEye? Well, when I first tried out the 3RdEye demo, I was very surprised. I put on the visor and held the platform. There were two geometries I could observe: the “Statue of Liberty” and “race car” models. First, I
tried the race car. I could see it on the platform through the visor. I was able to approach it, look at it from the top and even try to hold it. The sensation is quite complicated. You see an object on the platform, but actually, there is nothing there. This makes you question reality. It's very strange to see something but not be able to touch it. Next, I tried the second geometry--and there I was, holding the Statue of Liberty in my hand. I enjoyed this experience a lot.

If you want to have a similar experience, I suggest you go and take a look at IRS's project on May 15-16 in front of Mithat Çoruh Auditorium in the Engineering Building.

Have a nice week, and good luck to 3RdEye!


Sıla Türkü Kural (EE/IV)

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