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Nearlife views technology as a tool to bring unique interactive experiences to any audience. Our approach is to conceptualize freely first extending the boundaries of what is possible and then to refine the design as we apply and develop the technologies required to bring our concepts to life.
For example, in creating the Virtual FishTank, we designed the exhibit to be an immersive experience reminiscent of an actual aquarium by spanning the display over twelve rear projection screens displaying real-time simulation graphics. To achieve this design, we had to write the fish behavior simulation engine as well as the networking software to distribute the fish simulation data to each display computer and handle transitions when a fish swims from one screen to the next.
One of the technical problems we had to solve was displaying the fish's internal state to viewers, such as fear of the shark. To do that we used a combination of hand animated 3D fish character motion and a procedural behavior engine that enables the fish to respond to stimuli in its environment. Our view is that problems like this can be solved through a tight collaboration between artists and software developers (sometimes this is the same person).
Our staff takes an active interest in the latest research in computer graphics, vision, and human-computer interface. We are constantly in search of new technologies that will enable us to create unique experiences. For example, we are employed a real-time people tracking vision system to enable visitors to walk through a simulated river of bits projected onto the floor. As people walk through the projected space, the bits will flow around them blending their physical position in the space of the room with a simulated virtual world. Our work always pushes the boundary between the real physical world and the virtual worlds that we create.