Monday, September 29, 2014

A digital 3D model is essentially a set of instructions, interpreted by a computer and displayed as an object which appears to have length, breadth and depth. Using sophisticated computing technologies, models can look ‘photorealistic’ – i.e. visually identical to real world objects. The technology is widespread and is used in videogames, architectural visualisations, movies and by industrial designers.

The digital 3D model is a virtual object which can be viewed from many different perspectives. In addition to being 'viewed' the 3D digital model can be used within digital simulations of real-world scenarios. For example, a digital aircraft model, when used with appropriate simulation software, will display similar aerodynamic properties as an actual, physical aeroplane. Another example, seen by a large number of people, is where the Met Office create 3D digital models of predicted weather patterns.

3D digital models can also be ‘printed out’ as real, tangible objects in a process known as 3D printing. In addition to enabling the creation of novel designs, 3D printing means fragile original objects can be digitised and their 'printed' copies displayed instead. This technique, which theoretically allows infinite duplication of real world things, promises significant impact on museum and special research collections. The limitations of viewing 3D information on 2D monitor screens are also being overcome. Technologies such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality represent powerful new methods to help us engage with digital 3D content.

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