Thursday, January 10, 2008
“The west is the best, get here and we’ll do the rest”.
Jim Morrison, The Doors’ charismatic singer, referred to the American continent’s west… but this could also be applied to Europe’s west, and to Portugal more precisely.
Back in 1992 Portugal was awarded with the organization of the 1998’s international exhibition. I remember hearing about it on the radio just before a meeting with Professor Câmara at the National Geographic Information Center (CNIG). “Have you heard the news? That’ll be a great opportunity to show what we can do.”, he said. And the following years have shown just that.
In 1993, the Environmental Systems Analysis Group assembled the first Virtual Reality laboratory in Portugal. Equipped with a head mounted display (HMD), Polhemus sensors, a Silicon Graphics Indy workstation and two Pentium PCs, the lab was able to produce a lot of innovative concepts of simulation, interaction and information visualization. By innovative I mean these were real breakthroughs. And the fact that we were not working with high-end supercomputers pushed creativity to a whole new level.
One of the areas with impressive results was the level of detail (LOD) management for large digital elevation models. That’s what made possible to have a project like Portugal Digital at the Territory Pavilion of the Expo98. It was a real time 3D simulator of continental Portugal, with 1m spatial resolution in Lisbon and Porto and 30m elsewhere… made from scratch in 4 months by a team of 6 members (including sound design), stable enough to run for 6 months and used by over 1 million visitors. It was impressive enough to get F-16 air force pilots playing like they were kids, and robust enough to withstand real kids flying like fighter pilots.
Few believed it was possible to achieve this result in such a short time frame and with so few resources.
We knew it was possible. And we did it.
That’s the spirit YDreams is built upon.