Gaming technology powers visualisation software

Sentient Computing has developed a 3D automation and visualisation software product targeted at mining, oil & gas and manufacturing operations. The software company’s product, MVX, uses technology that is also used in the world of gaming and as a result, this Perth-based business has plenty of reasons to keep an eye on the latest video games.

Sentient founder Doug Bester said when people hear the word gaming associated with MVX, they often underestimate the power of the software. "Many don’t actually understand how influential gaming technology is in the ongoing development of software. The worldwide video gaming industry is estimated to be worth around $100 billion.

"The industry is responsible for leaps in technology, especially in the communications, graphics and deployment areas. So, for a business like ours, we benefit greatly from the research and development going on in that space," Bester explained.

"Many of the platforms and techniques used in gaming are eventually utilised in many different industries. This technology is used in medical science and imaging, architectural visualisation, scheduling and planning. There are many non-gaming applications for this technology, but as the gaming industry has access to incredible budgets you usually see the uptake there first.

"Because video games are something people do as a hobby, when you talk about gaming technology in relation to MVX, some people feel it somehow makes the product less commercial or serious. MVX is a powerful tool that pulls together data inside a 3D scene which has a very natural and seamless navigation much like a video game. However, the software is about more than high quality graphics, it has the ability to seamlessly integrate data from various sources required by a client to carry out operations," explained Bester.

"We have put a lot of effort into the design of the system and have developed an ‘Object Server’ that produces objects from different sources using the ISA95 standard. These objects are then replicated into the 3D environment which can be running on different platforms and devices. So the same project can be deployed on Windows, web, Macintosh, iPad and mobile devices. This keeps costs low when compared with traditional 3D solutions.

"The ability to securely access real time and historical data from different sources in an immersive 3D scene from anywhere in the world has enormous potential. Other software products, besides using 2D which require more user interpretation, are not designed for the full integration of data. This means different programs are used to track specific data, and those programs cannot communicate and share information with one another.

"The real time aspect eliminates the issue of distance for remote operations which is a major point of difference. Additionally, the way MVX pulls data together has a massive impact on efficiency and it gives clients a more thorough and up-to-date understanding of their operations. We believe we have set a new benchmark for this type of program, it is very exciting," he said.

Keeping an eye on developments in gaming was an essential part of the job at Sentient, said Bester.
"As we specialise in leveraging these types of technologies we constantly research a wide range of platforms, technologies and future trends and of course, what is happening in the world of gaming," he noted.

"We sent an employee to the Unite conference in Montreal in November last year. This conference was focused on a specific 3D gaming development platform so it was especially relevant to what we are currently working with. The latest version of the product released just prior to the conference has a number of new features that will benefit us.

"Gaming may be about leisure but, for us, keeping well versed in that industry is crucial for the ongoing development of our product," concluded Bester.

Read more: Augmented reality project delivers enhanced information


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