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Real-time physics! Next? Integrate with fluid user interfaces.

By July 20, 2010blog

Lagoa Multiphysics 1.0 – Teaser from Thiago Costa on Vimeo.

Neat stuff, but so far I don’t see anything hasn’t already been demo’d with PhysX or OpenCL. Also, notice that the particle counts are bit skinny, leading me to wonder if it’s GPU-accelerated. Smoke, fire and fluids look increasingly realistic as you ratchet up the particle counts. Seeing high and low particle-counts side-by-side helps one appreciate the difference. (It’s kinda’ like HD versus standard resolutions.) For instance, compare the dust in the turbulence demo below to similar sequences from the Lagoa vid.

[pullquote_right]The challenge, as with 3D interfaces, is to make the physics component truly useful and usable, something more than one-time wow factor.[/pullquote_right]Actually, I may be comparing apples to oranges—and unfavorably so for Lagoa. (The rendering credits on the Lagoa vid suggest that it isn’t real-time.) In any case, OpenCL, PhysX and the like will bring interactive million-particle counts to life. So how will interaction designers leverage the power? The low-hanging fruits are the hypnotic visualizations that video DJs produce. Beyond that, I want to see how we can build information landscapes and fluid user interfaces that take advantage of real-time physics. The Expression folks have already hinted as to how physics behaviors can enhance an interface. Information boids are another technique that would benefit from real-time physics. The challenge, as with 3D interfaces, is to make the physical dynamics truly useful and usable, something more than one-time wow factor.

What are your thoughts on applications of real-time physics to everyday user experiences?


  • Ellie K says:

    Since you asked for thoughts on applications of real-time physics to everyday user experiences…. I’d like to see Linden Lab implement Mr. Costa’s “Lagoa Multi-physics 1.0” in the Second Life grid. Second Life remains a frequent everyday user experience for me. I only watched one of the Lagoa videos, but noted that FPS < 20 when displayed in the graphical interface toward the end. That was surprising for real-time rendering, but I have merely a tiny understanding of GPU's and PhysX.

    Here's a question for you: What did you see in the rendering credits that indicated the videos weren't real-time?

  • Aneesh says:

    @Ellie K – it was the “Rendered with Arnold” blurb that made me wonder. It still might be real time. Let us know if you find further details on the engine. For now, the first page of Google hits for “Lagoa physics” doesn’t reveal much.

  • Superpositivo says:

    what???.. Lagoa compared to realtime gpu effect?

    No intention to be bad, but I think you didn’t catch the meaning of the two things. Lagoa is MULTIPHYSICS!.. The Gpu effects are just particles to create some nice effect.

    Nothing comparing to interact deeply with geometry and all the infinite variants it can create.
    Lagoa works on fluids, cloths, deformations, and a much more.
    Of course it’s not something created for realtime. Maybe someone may use something for realtime, but it’s conceveid as a tool that was missing in Softimage. There are similar tools out there, stand alone or integrated with softwares. This is another, but a BIG another, and inside Softimage, usin the ICE tech. It means that it’s not something apart, it’s something that interact with everything in the software. It’s really just more than realtime, for the use that Softimage users will do…

  • Aneesh says:

    Thanks for the insight, Superpositivo. The latest real-time GPU physics are, in my view, much more than “particles to create some nice effect.” They may not be as correct as offline physics, but they are highly complex and deeply modeled. APEX is a good example.

    As in the case of ray-tracing, the line between real-time and offline rendering will continue to blur. Yesterday’s offline render is today’s real-time render.

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