Daily summaries
Show Guide
Show Guide (7.1MB PDF)
Tuesday, August 26th, 2008


Alex Albrecht and Kevin Rose recorded their weekly Diggnation tech/culture show from NVISION. Each week Alex and Kevin drink beer and review some of the top stories from Digg.com.

We won't attempt to recap the show here, but it was hilarious (as usual). The show should be posted to the Diggnation Web site on Friday.


Above: A quick look around the GeForce LAN gaming area at the convention.

Three back-to-back presentations this afternoon showed how visual computing is furthering our knowledge and exploration of space.

The first two were in the HD Theater. Researchers from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight and Ames Research Centers gave a demonstration of the tools they use to explore the surface of the Moon and Mars.

This was followed by Cosmic Collisions, a film produced by the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Narrated by Robert Redford, the film discusses the role that impacts by celestial objects have had on our planet, from the impact that created the Moon to the one that drove the dinosaurs to extinction, to the millions of daily impacts from the solar wind that create the aurora effects at extreme latitudes. The film will be shown again tomorrow at 10 A.M.

The third was quite different. Part of the NVIDIA Research Summit it was a presentation by William Dorland of the University of Maryland titled How We Crammed a Black Hole, a Star Cluster, & Turbulent Plasma Into a GPU (& Lived to Talk About It). Dr. Dorland reviewed his research team’s use of CUDA and GPUs for advanced astrophysics calculations.

Keynote Blog

Scott Budman of the Bay Area’s NBC 11 television hosted Tuesday’s keynote event featuring speakers discussing how visual computing technology affected their lives and work, and by extension how it affects all our lives.

Scott was joined on stage first by astronaut Eileen Collins, the first woman to pilot and command the space shuttle, who discussed how visual computing is an essential element in space exploration and training astronauts and pilots. Eileen discussed the role simulations play in astronaut training and how much visually improved they have become—even showing the alligators in the canals as the virtual space shuttle makes its approach to Kennedy Space Center. Simulation is absolutely essential in astronaut training because on a real mission everything must go perfectly because there often isn’t a second chance. And pilots need high-quality visual systems to display and interpret data in real time.

Eileen also showed a variety of demos of visual computing tools NASA uses in mission planning, training, and in educating the public, from visual tours of the solar system that remain faithful to scale and distance to virtual fly-overs of the Martian surface. Finally, Eileen gave a summary of what is to come from NASA and the Constellation program that will take humans back to the Moon and on to Mars.

Bringing the discussion back down to Earth was Bernard Charlès, CEO of Dassault Systèmes, makers of 3D design software. Bernard discussed the changing face of 3D design, how visual computing is making it more collaborative, among design professionals but also in collaboration with consumers, who are increasingly able to influence the design process of products they use.

Nowadays, nearly every new airplane, car, and building design, as well as many other mundane product designs, is created digitally. From the Boeing 787 which had a “virtual rollout,” having been “built before it was built.” But Bernard took the NVISION attendees beyond what is possible today, discussing and demoing how design will change in the future to be even more collaborative. And not just among the designers themselves, but including the consumer in the design cycle as well, influencing the design process in real time. In the future virtual prototypes will be so realistic that the only difference between the real thing will be the smell.

Lorne Lanning, creator of Oddworld, took the audience from the commercial world of industrial design into the future of digital fine arts, how the arts are being influenced by science and physics in their creation of impossible worlds, and how in turn science is gaining inspiration from the art. And unlike past revolutions in art which were centered on a particular location, the digital fine arts are truly global.

A possible model for innovation in the future is Leonardo da Vinci, who was simultaneously an artist, scientist, engineer, and craftsman. Visual computing technology is giving individuals the ability to create their own art, entertainment, and personal visual narratives. Tools like video game engines are being used to create films and to materialize ideas faster and make them more relevant to our lives.

And last, but not least, was NASCAR racing sensation Kyle Busch who discussed how racing games compared to the real thing—they do a good job of conveying distance, speed, and sensitivity of the cars, but need to do a better job of simulating the controls and the tactile sensation of driving a race car. Kyle also talked about how visual computing is influencing the design of race cars and how he uses simulators for training, going so far as to give a demo of the simulator he has in his basement.

The discussion and demos at today’s keynote gave a taste of what is to come from visual computing and how it will impact our daily lives.



Also be sure head on over to the official NVISION Blog, but also remember to check back here often as we continue to add to the list of the day's highlights.

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