Saturday 20 March 2010

2D or not 2D, part deux

There's a comprehesive move toward fairly generic realtime 3D, beyond the many, many traditional implementations. Satish Pai said at a Schlumberger Forum over five years ago that video gaming consoles would drive 3D visualisation in petroleum. Steve Ballmer recently asked at Microsoft's Global Energy Forum if X-Box might be the next console (below)? Google Earth uses movie industry techniques to speed up visualisation. And military techniques used in seismic visualisation were presented at FindingPetroleum's seminar Advances in Geophysics & Sub-surface Description this week.

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It featured an intriguing new-comer in the field, Kongsberg's real-time 3D reservoir simulation and modelling - their sweet spot is post-processing, that is taking 3D models from the many available geoscience packages, and removing its technical limits - the number and shape of grid cells and their display in real-time 3D have been among them, until Saudi Aramco and Conoco Phillips commissioned projects to remove them.

Moreover, three recent postings showed how the field is clearly moving at least on the desktop. First ESRI announces 3D in its geodatabase for ArcGIS 10, allowing 3D edits and supporting other databases spatial types. Then #gotgeoint mention DARPA and others' plan to map the earth in 3D using a variety of shallow subsurface sensors in pipelines and other drill pipes. And the British Geological Survey releases their implementation of GSI3D, an affordable geoscience package for surficial and shallow geology, using cross-sections and grids to build up a 3D model.

So there's a mix of the old and the new available on the desktop, but how about the web? HTML 5.0 reportedly has 3D built in for on-line gaming applications. Google, Bing, Whirlwind and others offer 3D globe interfaces. I reported in the first posting on this how some subsurface 3D can be shown on the web. And Neftex presented at FindingPetroleum January Conference in London a comprehensive global basin model they post on Bing Maps and ArcGIS Explorer, complete with geologic sections and subsurface grids:

Someone once asked me why do web mapping and GIS bother with 3D, when engineering and gaming industries covered it so well already? Perhaps the answer is not to re-invent the wheel, but rather link each application that excels in its domain, via data or application interchange such as Safe Software or OpenSpirit...

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