In 1985, Omnibus Computer Graphics became one of the first commercial organizations to utilize the Internet for its own business purposes, unrelated to the network function. (Other companies involved in the 'net infrastructure had probably used it for corporate purposes before this time.) Omnibus had three offices, located in Toronto, Los Angeles, and New York City, that were connected via NSFNet.
Each of these offices produced computer animation for film and advertising and had a very active R&D team. We used the Internet to transfer images, scripts, and code. Our R&D group was developing the PRISMS system and we relied heavily on email and FTP. We had a rather impressive nightly process that batch transferred, merged, and redistributed code from each of the three sites into a coherent baseline RCS. It was a great example of distributed development and collaboration. I am not aware of any earlier efforts that used such a distributed development process over the Internet, either for computer animation or any other commercial endeavor.
The PRISMS software survived the demise of Omnibus in 1987 to become the basis for offerings from Side Effects Software. Several of the key developers received an Academy Award for Technical Achievement in 1998.
Human-Centered Systems Department
The ASCII art depicted on pg. 33 of "Graphics on the Internet-Part I: A Brief History" in the October 2000 issue reminded me of an MS-DOS batch file I wrote a long time ago (see above) Occasionally this file would be inserted into a coworker's AUTOEXEC.BAT or copied and renamed to another MS-DOS command. We don't try this now since we moved to Windows NT because, well, it got a little old a long time ago.
Wilbur C. Bragg, II
Jack Lynch & Associates
Virtual Reality and Visual Simulation
Q.Which VR/VizSim applications are most in demand?
A.The top areas of VR/VizSim applications include VR/VizSim research, virtual prototyping, postgraduate education, design evaluation, architecture, museum/exhibitions non-commercial, medical training, and software development.
Q.How is VR used in museums, and what business opportunities are shaping up for this cultural market?
A.Many installations are used as temporary exhibits, and often in places like World's Fairs. But there are many potential museum applications that are not being developed. Such applications could include visiting ancient Rome, for example, or exploring the sea bottom in virtual reality.
Q.Where is the VR/VizSim industry headed: toward Internet streaming, with thin content, or toward off-line applications, with large scenes?
A.It's headed just about everywhere. The most important commercial applications at this time are virtual prototyping and design evaluation-providing large cost savings over traditional prototyping and design evaluation tools.
To read the complete answers to these questions and others, visit the Expert Q&A section of Computer Graphics World online at www.cgw.com, where Ben Delaney, president of CyberEdge Information Services, has posted answers to questions regarding VR and visualization/simulation.
We welcome any insights you have to offer that would further our readers' understanding of topics discussed in this issue, or that concern the computer graphics industry in general. We may edit your comments to conform to our style and space requirements.
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