The algorithm, first presented at a computer graphics conference last August, was since used by sports network ESPN and sporting-technology company Sportvision Inc. to create a new effect for racing coverage. The fast-paced innovation hit prime time in late July when ESPN used the Draft Track technology to visualize the air flow behind cars in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, a NASCAR race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Zoran Popoviæ, an associate professor in the UW's department of computer science and engineering, and two students wrote the code that dramatically speeds up real-time fluid dynamics simulations. Working with ESPN, a Chicago-based company named Sportvision developed the application for NASCAR competition.
The Draft Track application calculates air flow over the cars and then displays it as colors trailing behind the car. Green, blue, yellow and red correspond to different speeds and directions for air flow when two or more cars approach one another while driving at speeds upward of 200 miles per hour.
"What ESPN wanted to do is tell the story for the viewer of how drafting works because it's such a big part of the event," said Rick Cavallaro, chief scientist at Sportvision. "How the drivers use drafting to save gas, pick up speed, et cetera."
The UW researchers' breakthrough was figuring out how to simulate and display complex systems very quickly. Studios such as Pixar already use physical laws, such as the Navier-Stokes fluids equations, in their animations. This allows the studios to create realistic pictures of how smoke curls, how a fire's flames lick, and even how hair or fabric blows in the wind. But these calculations take hours to run on many high-performance computers. And increasing the speed of the image is only one challenge of moving to a real-time setting.
"The studios shoot a two-second special effect and if it doesn't work they just change the parameters and try again," Popoviæ said. "But in a real-time context the simulation has to run indefinitely, and for an unforeseen set of inputs."
To make the simulation work in real time and be interactive, "you kind of need to rethink the math problem," he said. "The method that ended up being used is drastically different from what people have done before."
The new algorithm first simulates all the ways that smoke, fire -- or in this case, modified stock cars -- can behave. Then it runs the simulation for a reduced number of physically possible parameters. This allows the model to run a million times faster than before. The researchers presented the work at the SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference in August 2006.
Popoviæ imagined that the first applications would be introducing interactive simulations in video games that would allow players to drive through a smoky fire, interact with the weather in a flight simulator, or drive racecars in a virtual wind tunnel. Other research results from his lab were licensed to the game industry and then adopted in video games.
But in March, Sportvision approached the researchers to see whether it could license the software for use in NASCAR visualizations. The two parties agreed to a nonexclusive, open-source agreement where the company would be allowed to use the technique.
"What's interesting is how the flow from the car in front is affecting the cars behind," Popoviæ said. "When there are two cars behind, then the interaction becomes very complex."
Sportvision creates technology to enhance sports coverage. It introduced the glowing puck for National Hockey League telecasts in the mid 1990s and later came up with the yellow lines that drag a virtual highlighter over the first-down line in football. The company has already developed add-ons for ESPN's NASCAR coverage, placing Global Positioning System receivers, inertial measurement systems and telemetry on each car that can determine each car's speed and position several times a second. Now company engineers will use data from those sensors to model and display the air flowing over the cars.
"This is certainly not an application that had occurred to me," admitted Adrien Treuille, a doctoral student who co-authored the software. He, like Popoviæ, said he had not previously been a NASCAR fan.
The group hoped the work might be used for realistic training simulations such as firefighters entering a smoke-filled building. "But once [Sportvision] called us and started describing what they wanted to do," Treuille recalled, "We said, 'Yes, that would totally work.'"
Hannah Hickey | EurekAlert!
Hope to discover sure signs of life on Mars? New research says look for the element vanadium
22.09.2017 | University of Kansas
22.09.2017 | Forschungszentrum MATHEON ECMath
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy