HP’s new Photon Engine to paint giant 3D surfaces

November 7, 2011 by Dave Haynes

HP Labs, the computing giant’s central research arm, has announced a new product that allows vivid 3D images to be painted on what it describes as building-sized surfaces.

“The Photon Engine paints any sized surface with precise dots of light to create a vivid way to visualize enterprise data in 2-D and 3-D,” says Carlos Montalvo, vice president, Innovation Program Office, HP.

The image software generates images with up to half a pixel of resolution, which “enables the creation of realistic 3-D images in ambient light, visible from any angle on display surfaces that scale from two feet to hundreds of feet.”

The tight pixels also minimize eye strain and fatigue, reasons HP.

The solution uses an HP workstation and multiple projectors (something like eight) to create a scalable “super projector.” HP’s proprietary image processing software mathematically blends light sources to generate high-resolution images by painting with dots of light on any straight or curved surface.

The solution is aimed at retail. For example, the fashion house Marchesa recently used the HP Photon Engine solution to present its Spring 2012 collection in 3-D to retail buyers, editors and industry insiders during Fashion Week (ed: presumably in NYC). It was also more recently used during Marchesa’s 2012 Spring trunk-show at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in New York.

“The clarity of the images is absolutely stunning and it brings a whole new dimension to the retail shopping experience,”said Keren Craig, co-founder, Marchesa.

But the solution is also tailored to uses such as command and control environments (such as military and transport).  In addition to delivering 3-D content, the HP Photon Engine solution lets users view structured or unstructured data — including unlimited streams of 2-D video, internet content, documents and photos — on single or multiple surfaces to support rapid decision making.

Users also can seamlessly move and manipulate data from a wireless device such as a tablet or smartphone on the shared surface and collaborate to quickly solve complex problems.

The solution’s 2-D capabilities hold significant promise for organizations running multifaceted operation centers, including financial services companies, federal and local government agencies, power and energy utilities, and network, manufacturing and transportation management providers. HP currently uses the solution to run global network operation centers, enabling the visualization of real-time network traffic, integrity and security status.

The video below shows you the basic set-up but doesn’t really offer a lot of clues as to what’s up. It is predominantly three HP people chatting, with no show and tell that I could see. I am steadily amazed at how big companies miss some of the basics of product marketing by blabbering away about the tech and largely leaving potential customers to somehow imagine what it all looks like and also figure out, independently, why they should care.

Showing glasses-needed 3D in videos is hard, but Geez guys, show something!

Hat tip to Gizmodo for flagging this story …

  1. R. Altman says:

    OK. So if I am reading between the lines correctly, what you’re saying is that this is a virtual printer on GPU steroids that paints on the sides of buildings in real-time with dots of light, (or a wall inside a department store, perhaps??) .

    Clever. Very Clever.

    Let’s face it, today’s retail digital signage is money losing lame…which is why everyone walks past it regardless of how much AdWeek or Omnicon try to convince you differently.

    Seems like this idea is a heck of a lot smarter than HP spending billions of dollars on worthless 3D display and TV factories in China and Korea. They should leave that to the bottom feeders like Dell, LG and Lenovo.

    Who said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

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