ad info

 
CNN.com  technology > computing
    Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback  

 

  Search
 
 

 
TECHNOLOGY
TOP STORIES

Consumer group: Online privacy protections fall short

Guide to a wired Super Bowl

Debate opens on making e-commerce law consistent

(MORE)

TOP STORIES

More than 11,000 killed in India quake

Mideast negotiators want to continue talks after Israeli elections

(MORE)

MARKETS
4:30pm ET, 4/16
144.70
8257.60
3.71
1394.72
10.90
879.91
 


WORLD

U.S.

POLITICS

LAW

ENTERTAINMENT

HEALTH

TRAVEL

FOOD

ARTS & STYLE



(MORE HEADLINES)
*
 
CNN Websites
Networks image


Army wants to harness power of the Matrix

Federal Computer Week

May 2, 2000
Web posted at: 9:31 a.m. EDT (1331 GMT)

(IDG) -- The Army has pulled together a team of cinematography experts from Hollywood to help it harness the technology depicted in the hit movie "The Matrix" and TV series "Star Trek: The Next Generation" for use in its own next generation of training and simulation systems.

Lt. Gen. William Campbell, the Army's chief information officer, said the Army is studying the feasibility of building a "holodeck," a cutting-edge simulator that would use virtual cinematography and video game technology to create realistic 3-D scenes of actual locations worldwide that soldiers could use for training and mission rehearsal. "It allows you to go anywhere, anytime," Campbell said.

  QUICKVOTE
Do you think a Star Trek-like holodeck will exist in your lifetime?

Yes
No
View Results
 

Campbell, who spoke last week at the annual conference on Information Assurance and Battlefield Visualization, sponsored by the Association of the U.S. Army and Association of Old Crows, showed a video of the now-famous "bullet time" sequences from "The Matrix," which starred actor Keanu Reeves as Thomas "Neo" Anderson, a computer hacker who is trapped in a simulated version of 20th-century life known as the Matrix. In the sequence, Reeves is able to dodge bullets by bending backward.

Campbell said it is this type of photo-manipulation technology, as well as the simulation technology depicted in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," that the Army hopes to use in its future holodeck.

MORE COMPUTING INTELLIGENCE
IDG.net   IDG.net home page
  Federal Computer Week home page
  Free Subscriptions to Federal Computer Week
  IDG.net's personal news page
  Navy takes PC game seriously
  Reviews & in-depth info at IDG.net
  E-BusinessWorld
  Year 2000 World
  Questions about computers? Let IDG.net's editors help you
  Subscribe to IDG.net's free daily newsletters
  Search IDG.net in 12 languages
  News Radio
  * Fusion audio primers
  * Computerworld Minute

James Heath, senior intelligence and technical adviser at the U.S. Army's Land Information Warfare Activity, said visualization is key to the future of the Army. "Not only will [the holodeck] happen, but it's really mandatory," he said.

The Defense Department's relationship with the entertainment industry has been growing closer. Last year, the Defense Modeling and Simulation Office and Paramount Digital Entertainment began work on adapting Hollywood multimedia technology and movie storytelling skills to create realistic simulations for military officers learning how to make better decisions during international crises.

Also last year, the Army signed a five-year, $45 million contract with the University of Southern California to establish the Institute of Creative Technologies, a center for researching applications to improve realism in training simulators. Under that contract, the Army is expecting movie producers and computer game makers to develop new and better technologies.

The institute is a key member of the "team of experts" tapped by the Army to work with production designers from the entertainment industry and the university. Paul Debevec a filmmaker, scientist and leader in image-based modeling, rendering and lighting using photographs to simulate events was one of the first experts hired by the ICT. Film work by Debevec, who is based at the University of California at Berkeley, helped inspire some of the Academy Award-winning visual effects in "The Matrix."

"The holodeck is the Holy Grail of the institute," Debevec said. "It will be a next-generation virtual reality simulation technique that will make it possible for a person to go into a room or put on a headset and really feel like they are in a different place. They will be able to see, hear, touch and even smell everything. The terrain or environment will be realistic, and eventually there will even be other characters to interact with and teach and learn from."

One of Debevec's students, George Borshukov, served as a technical designer for the "bullet time" sequences. Borshukov, who works in research and development at Alameda, Calif.-based Manex Entertainment, the company that managed the effects for "The Matrix," said the technology is almost mature enough to produce a completely realistic virtual environment.

"If you work from photos of real environments, you can get 95 percent realism, but that doesn't include people or dynamics," Borshukov said. "Photo- realistic humans and other stuff is a little farther away, especially for real time, which is what the Army would want."

Borshukov said applications using a photo-realistic base with real-time interaction is probably five to 10 years away, "but the technology is already there and there's already a plan of how to do it."

"Capturing people doing real things on film and stringing that together with real environments [will be done]," he said. But "the ultimate goal to simulate all the physics, as opposed to simply image-based rendering, is 20 to 25 years away."




RELATED STORIES:
Heavy Gear II
May 1, 2000
Star Wars: Force Commander lets you join the Dark Side
April 5, 2000
Playing games with the future of the Net
March 24, 2000
Hands-on with the PlayStation2
Nocturne: A gothic adventure
October 8, 1999
Episode I Racer feels rushed-to-market
June 8, 1999
Phantom Menace game lets you be a Jedi
June 3, 1999
Top 10 Phantom Menace downloads
May 21, 1999

RELATED IDG.net STORIES:
Agencies buy into 3-D
(FCW)
Navy takes PC game seriously
(FCW)
Join the Navy, play videogames
(FCW)
3-D finally gets serious
(CIO)
Superscape launches 3D technology for e-business
(IDG.net)
Fun alert: Expect more powerful multimedia in 2000
(PC World)
A new reality
(FCW)
Preview: Star Trek Armada
(IDG.net)

RELATED SITES:
US Army
Institute of Creative Technologies

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

 Search   

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.