06 Dec UW open-source 3D environment tapped for commercial development
Madison, Wis. — The North Carolina simulated learning company 3Dsolve is the latest partner in the development of the Croquet Project at UW-Madison, a graphical communications framework.
The company announced on Monday at the I/ITSEC trade show in Orlando that it has begun developing software for the Croquet system to see how it can be applied to military and commercial avenues.
“What we’re doing here is very early work, less research and more development – bringing over our work into Croquet,” said Frank Boosman, chief marketing officer for 3Dsolve. “It’s obvious that Croquet is an excellent vehicle for e-learning, and lends itself extremely well to simulation learning.”
The Croquet system is an open-source software platform that incorporates two- and three-dimensional visual interfaces to represent data. Its design allows information to be connected through 3D portals that function similar to online hyperlinks, and includes architecture that makes it usable on all major operating systems.
According to Julian Lombardi, assistant director of UW-Madison’s Division of Information Technology and one of Croquet’s lead architects, the system was developed to further “scientific visualization” and move past the confines of simple documents.
“The ability to expand means we have to move past documents, to a multi-dimensional, open-scale framework,” Lombardi said.
Boosman said that the firm’s involvement with the project was a natural step for the company due to previous connections. David Smith, chief technical officer of 3Dsolve, is one of six lead architects for the Croquet project.
3Dsolve is looking to expand the project’s military applications. The company is working on a signal-comprehension program for the U.S. Army, and training programs for the U.S. Navy submarine school that use game-like technologies. According to Boosman, Croquet translates very well to projects such as these, and its simulation techniques fall in line with the company’s efforts.
Croquet is designed to work in as many fields as possible, though, so 3Dsolve has no plans to limit itself to one area. The system is usable in medical imaging for patient diagnosis, and can be used in education all the way through the K-12 system. Corporations could also form a likely market, as they need to train numerous employees on a regular basis.
3Dsolve also plans to apply Croquet to training in the pharmaceutical industry. “It’s a highly regulated and technological industry, where one mistake can literally cost millions,” Boosman said.
Lombardi says that the beta of Croquet should be ready by fall of 2005, and the currently “robust” technology is ready for 3Dsolve to continue its development. He added that since the main focus of the university’s research is to develop the system for UW-Madison, they welcome any opportunities to develop it outward.
“We’re building the operating system, and anyone can build on it,” Lombardi said. “These guys are working to develop and contribute to the open-source, contributing code and specially involved simulations.”
Les Chappell is a staff writer for WTN and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.