Issue: Volume 35 Issue 2: (Feb/Mar 2012)


NewTek Shines with LightWave 11

NewTek has upgraded its LightWave modeling, animation, and rendering software to Version 11. The software fits into any studio pipeline seamlessly, offering support for Autodesk Geometry Cache and FBX, including pixel-perfect camera matching with Autodesk Maya cameras. It also supports the Unity game engine and Pixologic GoZ ZBrush workflow—a fit for both large and small environments.

Some of the new features include instancing, flocking, and fracturing tools, physics-based Bullet Dynamics options, as well as virtual studio and interchange tools that support new controllers, such as the PlayStation Move. The software also contains new render buffer capabilities, robust Python scripting functionality, FiberFX enhancements, user interface improvements, and more. These complement the software’s VPR, stereo tools, import/export abilities. LightWave 11 costs $1495.

Simulation Goes Mobile

Autodesk has unveiled ForceEffect, a free mobile simulation app for the iPad (available from the App Store on iPad or iTunes) that allows engineers to quickly and easily simulate design options during the conceptual phase. Force­Effect provides an intuitive environment for drawing, constraining, and simulating concepts using free body diagrams by simply tapping objects to select, move, rotate, and scale. Real-time solving capabilities provide immediate feedback on the performance of a design, enabling users to bring engineering to the point of the problem, no matter where they are located.

With the scaled static image, users can create joints, supports, and loads, and compute reaction forces. They can then easily manipulate the geometry to iterate on the design and calculate new reaction forces to optimize the design. Unlike the traditional approach of using paper, pencil, and a calculator to develop equations for design options, Autodesk ForceEffect does all simulation and engineering calculations on the iPad. The results can be printed, e-mailed, or viewed from a Web browser.

KeyShot 3 from Luxion Hits Mark

Luxion is offering KeyShot 3, the next generation of the company’s real-time raytracing and global illumination rendering solution. The product contains a new patent-pending animation system that is based on offset transforms, rather than keyframes, which can be combined to create complex part and camera animations. The offset transforms can be moved interactively in the timeline, copied, pasted, linked with, and moved to other parts. The animations then can be output to standard multi-media formats, such as AVI, QuickTime, or Flash.

In addition, KeyShot 3 offers an improved user interface with better model interaction, a redesigned library containing new content, simplified material editing, enhanced texture mapping, and much more. Also, KeyShot’s import pipeline has been expanded to now support Parasolid-based file formats, such as NX, Solid Edge, and SolidWorks on both PC and Macintosh platforms. It now includes more than 400 new materials and 40-plus new lighting environments.

Pricing for Luxion’s KeyShot 3 starts at $995; the animation capabilities can be added for $500.

Smartphones, Tablets Overtaking Market

Research and consulting firm Jon Peddie Research (JPR) predicted in a new study on mobile devices that 80% of Smartphones will have stereo 3D cameras and screens by 2015. And, it’s not just about games; the addition of two cameras will enable gesture-based controls, advanced augmented-reality applications, and visualization with depth.

Based on its research, JPR believes that just as cameras and GPS became mainstays of mobile phones and tablets, the next must-have feature for mobile devices will be stereovision 3D (S3D). Smartphones and tablets may not be the only mobile devices to embrace S3D, however. JPR looked at several mobile devices that use advanced semiconductors, or systems on a chip (SoC), and found that the demand for mobile devices has exploded, creating a market for over two billion processors.

As a result, JPR found that by 2016:

- Over three quarters of a billion smartphones will ship.
- Feature and other phones will hit 869 million units.
- Almost 300 million tablets will ship.
- E-book readers shipments could reach 100 million a year.
- Handheld game consoles will hit 91 million.

In order to support 3D, processors will need to be powerful. JPR says the processors powering these new mobile devices will be truly amazing, consuming remarkably little power, built in the latest nanometer technology, and delivering unbelievable performance and functionality. And although all the devices will share some functionality and capabilities, no single device will kill any of the others—at least immediately. Each device will have a different form, primary function, and price. They will be connected all the time.

More than 16 processor firms and four IP suppliers will be chasing this market. Compared to the four or five processor companies chasing the PC market, that makes the mobile processor market over-populated by four to one. Is a consolidation coming? Are there too many suppliers chasing the same customers?
The market study includes a historical perspective that illustrates the sharp growth devices have enjoyed recently. For example, the first stand-alone tablet was the GRiDPad in 1989. In 2001, Microsoft reinvented the concept, calling it a “pen computer.” And then, in 2010, Apple brought the category to life with the iPad. The first smartphone was the IBM Simon in 1992, then Nokia entered the market 1996; since then, the segment has taken off like a rocket. The concept for the e-book came from Michael Heart in 1971, and the first battery powered, stand-alone unit was the Rocket eBook in 1998, but it was the Kindle that lit up the market in 2007.

Other popular mobile devices, like game consoles, navigation units, portable DVD players, and digital picture frames, all use high-res screens and sophisticated processors known as SoCs.

“The 2012 Mobile Devices and their Semiconductors Market Study” is available for $3500 at

Ansys 14 Debuts

Ansys has launched the newest release of its engineering simulation technology suite, Ansys 14.0, which includes a plethora of new, advanced features that make it easier, faster, and less costly for organizations to bring new products to market. The product delivers new benefits in three major areas: leveraging engineering resources to automate user-intensive operations, simulating complex systems to mimic those in the real world, and driving innovation with high-performance computing (HPC) by capitalizing on modern hardware advancements to deliver fast, complex simulation calculations.