Nima Keivan’s research project is incredible. It involves an autonomous toy car that navigates through an array of obstacles, including loops and enormous jumps. It uses an open-source physics engine (Bullet) to project forward in time the result of taking multiple actions and uses the results to make the optimal move (e.g. what will happen if I turn left .5 degrees, or stay straight, or turn right by .5 degrees).
Learn more on the project page or check out the PDF for more details. Thanks to Jack Morrison of Replica Labs for the link.
This blew my mind – almost all of the imagery in IKEA catalogs is computer generated.
The main rationale for switching from traditional photography to 3D rendering:
The IKEA team didn’t feel there was anything wrong with traditional photography, quality-wise. Like any company, they just wanted to make things easier for the team to work on – to make the process simpler, cheaper and faster. With traditional photography, you need to have prototype furniture being built in different parts of the world shipped over so it can be photographed. Everything needs to be there on time and it can be logistically difficult, expensive and not that environmental. Then if there are changes everything needs to be re-shot. With CG re-creations of pieces, it removes a lot of this difficulty. However to start with, Martin says, “There was no vision initially to create entire rooms in CG, like we do now. We just wanted to create the individual pieces – the ones you see on white backgrounds on the web.”
There are some great images in the article showing how the same kitchen is rendered for different countries. You’ll notice that the faucet switches sides, the oven handle changes, and in one of the renders the refrigerator is removed completely.
The article also describes the technology stack that they use to render all of the images.
Thanks to Hacker News for the link.
This isn’t a new link but one I’ve been meaning to bring to my readers’ attention for awhile now. Justin O’Beirne has posted an excellent analysis of how Google’s use of white outlines, label sizes, and label font weight enhance a user’s ability to find information on a Google map.
Just one of the informative graphics from the article
Interestingly enough, Bing changed its mapping visual style to respond to some of the complaints against it. See O’Beirne’s post on the updates they made.
The entire 41latitude website is excellent, but these articles in particular piqued my interest. Hopefully you find them similarly enlightening
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 2nd edition
This book is marvelous, and should be required reading to anyone who creates charts, graphs, or other summaries of quantiative/numeric data. Especially interesting is the section showing how less is more in charts and how taking away information enhances the legibility.
Computer Science Students Receive State Police Award for Helping Combat Child Porn
Tucker, Jeremy, and I received an award from the Maine State Police yesterday. It was a very humbling ceremony; a lot of officers and citizens received bravery commendations for dealing with hostage situations and violent criminals at the same ceremony. To think that a piece of software we wrote was deserving of such praise was incredible.
Whole flickr set
Three seniors fight child porn, one click at a time
Another write-up about the work two students and I performed for the Maine State Police.
Great Java demos of procedural textures, and more
The home page of Ken Perlin, for whom Perlin noise is named. Lots of great demos and interesting applets