|By Mike Jacobs
|March 9, 2005 12:00 AM EST
Reach behind your television and yank the cable out of the wall. Do you hear that noise? Not the kids screaming about their movie. Look at the screen. What you see is white noise: random bits of white, black and gray changing constantly. What does this have to do with movie magic or Java3D? What if a spell could conjure roaring fires, fluffy clouds, rippling water, naturally grained wood, smooth marble and even realistic terrains? That spell is available to us thanks to the inventive mind of Dr. Ken Perlin.
Who Was That Math Man?
Ken Perlin is a professor in the department of computer science at New York University. In 1997 he won an Academy Award for Technical Achievement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his procedural texturing techniques, which are widely used in feature films and television. He also had a big part in the computer animation in the movie "TRON." The techniques pioneered by Dr. Perlin allow programs to generate a wide range of realistic special effects efficiently. The foundation for these effects is a mathematical function called Perlin noise.
What Was That Noise?
Procedural texturing is the art of using an algorithm to generate a texture. Procedural techniques are not limited to texturing and can be applied to geometry, motion, color or any other thing you can imagine. Procedural techniques abstract the details of a scene or sequence into an algorithm. Parameters on the algorithm allow a variety of results to be achieved with the same algorithm. An example of procedural geometry was in my last article ("When Mars Is Too Big to Download," JDJ, September 2004) where we used parameters to vary the detail and roughness of the generated terrain. The advantage of using procedural techniques is that the details are generated, saving the cost of explicitly storing and retrieving them.
To make realistic special effects, we need a way to generate natural looking randomness. You might think that random numbers would be sufficient to accomplish this, but you would only be partially right. (See Figure 1.) Random numbers are typically generated without regard to past values. This lack of correlation can lead to abrupt changes between adjacent values and an unnatural special effect. What we need is a repeatable, smooth, non-cyclic random function whose results vary with the parameters we provide. Perlin noise was designed to do just that.
While the implementation details of Perlin noise are beyond the scope of this article, we do need a conceptual model to use it. The noise function accepts a number of double parameters and returns a double value between +1 and -1. One-dimensional noise is the result of generating random numbers at regular intervals and smoothly interpolating noise values in between using a high-order polynomial. This can be represented by a smooth curve as shown in Figure 1.
Two-dimensional noise does the interpolation in two dimensions forming a wavy noise surface. The three-dimensional noise can't be depicted graphically, but its foundation is a lattice. The three parameters represent the three dimensions of the lattice from which the noise value is calculated. This lattice consists of 256 by 256 by 256 points representing random numbers between which values are smoothly interpolated to calculate the noise. The noise value at the integer lattice locations is zero, while the values between the locations follows the same high-order polynomial mentioned above. A Java reference implementation called ImprovedNoise is available from Dr. Perlin's home page and a modified version is included with the source code for this article.
This probably sounds pretty mysterious, so let's put this magic to work with a few examples.
Casting Our First Spell: Blur
In my last article, we generated terrains with colors assigned based solely on elevation. Looking closely at some of the resulting terrains, you may have noticed that the colors created a layered effect. For this article, the FractalWorld3 example uses your choice of random numbers or Perlin noise to blur the colors to eliminate the layered affect. Have a look at Figure 2 to see this example in action.
In this example, the noise function is used to blur the boundaries between colors to make the transitions less apparent. The effect is implemented by nudging the color index with the noise function as shown in part in Listing 1.
The color index is determined normally and then a delta value is calculated with the noise function. The sum of the index and the delta value is rounded and clamped to create the new color index. This method uses the row, column and elevation as arguments to the noise function. All three are scaled down to focus the noise based on trial and error. You can think of the divisors as a zoom function into the noise. Because the noise is defined in a limited-size lattice, the zoom factor focuses the range: higher zoom results in less noise range. Finding the right recipe for an effect is mostly an art but luckily others have shared their recipes.
Texturing with Noise
A popular use for noise is to generate the colors on a texture. We can apply the texture to a shape, giving the appearance of natural materials like wood or marble. Have a look at Figure 3 for an example of an image produced by the PerlinNoiseSphere.
Java3D supports texturing of a shape by setting the texture image on the appearance object. The PerlinNoiseSphere example uses a Java3D Sphere primitive as the shape and Perlin noise to generate the texture. The Sphere primitive is used in this example so some texturing details can be automatically done for us. Setting up the texture on the appearance is shown in part in Listing 2. The getImage() method is where the magic happens. The recipe is used to determine the noise values and the PerlinNoiseSphere example interprets the values as colors. Before I disclose the secret to this trick, I should mention that there's no relationship between how the recipe creates the texture and how nature creates the material. These recipes have been arrived at through trial and error and bit of luck. The results look amazingly close to the real thing, which teaches us that: In 3D graphics, there's nothing like a great fake.
The recipe for the wood texture in Listing 3 is decidedly simple.
The grain value is determined by the noise method using the image row and column as parameters. The color for the image pixel is based on the red, green and blue values calculated with the grain. Creating static texture images with noise is interesting, but the power of noise is even greater when combined with animation.
A Java3D behavior links keyboard, mouse or temporal events with changes to the scene or view. For example, the keyboard or mouse can be used to update the view allowing us to move the virtual camera through the scene. Java3D includes this support with the KeyNavigatorBehavior, MouseRotate, MouseTranslate and MouseZoom behaviors. Time can be used to animate the movement or morph the shape attributes in our scene and Java3D includes subclasses of Interpolator for this as well. While there are a number of behaviors available in Java3D, it's likely you'll eventually need to create your own behavior and Java3D is designed for that.
When a behavior is created, the constructor typically defines the triggering or wake-up condition such as a keyboard or mouse event, a number of frames or the passage of time. Behaviors are added to the scene like any other Java3D object.
When your scene is initially rendered, Java3D calls the initialize() method where your implementation should set the trigger. When Java3D detects the triggering event, it calls the processStimulus() method on your behavior. Your implementation of this method does its thing and then must reset the trigger. The documentation for the Behavior class is excellent, so refer to it for more details.
The ElapsedTimeBehavior example is the basis for the animation examples in this article. When triggered, this behavior calls the tick() method on the configured listener after the specified number of milliseconds has passed. Milliseconds are used as the trigger rather than the number of frames so it runs consistently across different computers. Let's use this behavior to recreate the animation of a movie special effect in Java3D.
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT.
In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things.
AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
May. 3, 2016 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,195
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
May. 3, 2016 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,254
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
May. 3, 2016 10:45 PM EDT Reads: 738
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting.
In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
May. 3, 2016 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,310
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, will explain how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
May. 3, 2016 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,198
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
May. 3, 2016 09:45 PM EDT Reads: 305
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore.
This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
May. 3, 2016 09:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,104
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York.
Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility.
Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
May. 3, 2016 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,270
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
May. 3, 2016 08:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,193
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body?
In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
May. 3, 2016 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,031
trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vice president of product management, IoT solutions at GlobalSign, will teach IoT developers how t...
May. 3, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 304
A critical component of any IoT project is the back-end systems that capture data from remote IoT devices and structure it in a way to answer useful questions. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle large data sets, but they are not well suited to many IoT-scale products and the need for real-time insights.
At Fuze, we have developed a backend platform as part of our mobility-oriented cloud service that uses Big Data-based approache...
May. 3, 2016 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 299
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities.
One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
May. 3, 2016 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,172
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
May. 3, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 949
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
May. 3, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,170
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break.
Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
May. 3, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,590
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
May. 3, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,366
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls?
In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
May. 3, 2016 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,450
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
May. 3, 2016 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,103
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including cloud...
May. 2, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,692