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November 8, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

IBM Corp is dabbling in the realms of virtual reality and has announced a real-time virtual reality walk-through software package for computer-aided design. The three-dimensional Interaction Accelerator, which took roughly two years to develop at its Thomas J Watson Research Centre, New York, enables engineers and designers to take real-time walk-through tours through models of things such as engines, aeroplanes and buildings or molecules in order to review the model and inspect for design errors. The mouse or spaceball control used to control the camera is said to move at the same speed as hand movements, adjusting the quality of the image in real-time. This is due to the fact that the software constructs simplified geometrics to achieve interaction and then computes the picture from the geometrics. Users can work in the default setting that adds depth to the picture, mimicking the patterns of the human eye, so that close up, objects appear much sharper than those that are further away. In terms of picture quality the screen will display up to 500 faces, the upper limit for the graphic performance of the system. Interaction Accelerator is compatible with computer-aided design databases including assemblies of models designed in Catia, architectural models from A&ES, DXF files from AutoCAD, and Render files from Pro/Engineer. Interaction Accelerator runs on IBM RS/6000 workstations and PowerPC Model 25T and Silicon Graphics Inc workstations under AIX or Unix with X Window and Motif. It is shipping now at $8,000 per user with a charge of $1,000 on extra per additional software package.

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