IRVINE, Calif., October 7, 2009 – EON Reality, the world’s leading interactive 3D software provider, teams up with Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) and Discovery World Museum (DWM) to create Virtual Milwaukee. Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin is Wisconsin’s most progressive center for research and education in multimedia and other emerging interactive technologies and is home to an amazing 3D exhibit, The HIVE (Hybrid Interactive Virtual Education). The HIVE is a virtual reality environment that provides a teaching space and is also an attraction for Discovery World visitors. It consists of a cluster of futuristic pods, three walls and a floor, giving you the experience of total immersion. You just walk up, put on the glasses, slip on some booties (they protect the screen that you stand on) and step inside–Explore, Interact, Imagine and Experience. The HIVE is an enclosed chamber that uses computers, projectors, screens, 3D technology plus motion tracking and uses EON Reality’s software to create about 30 simulated virtual environments.
Virtual Milwaukee’s creation began when the faculty and staff at Milwaukee Area Technical College acquired an EON Reality software lab and training and then provided visualization development coursework to students at MATC. Next, a major undertaking began which was to work in collaboration with Discovery World to design and create a digital re-creation of downtown Milwaukee called Virtual Milwaukee. This creation became a centerpiece for MATC’s 2009 Portfolio Night which was kicked off by MATC’s Interim President, Dr. Vicki Martin, who welcomed students, faculty and guests.
The Virtual Milwaukee simulation includes real terrain, elevation and infrastructure data to build an accurate computer-generated version of the city of Milwaukee which can be easily updated based on data provided by Architects and City Planners.
New MATC Skills and Teambuilding Efforts
Marly Bergerud, Vice President, Education Development for EON Reality was pleased to relate, “Virtual Milwaukee was a collaborative effort and showpiece between MATC and Discovery World which showed off the skills of more than 50 MATC students.” Peter Axtell, a 3D modeling student at MATC re-created buildings inside of Virtual Milwaukee and indicated that he was comfortable with the technology in the project and learned a lot, including how to work with many people simultaneously. “I’m really proud and excited about being part of this on the ground floor,” he said.
Milwaukee Area Technical College staffers Michael Walsh (from left), Steve Burleson, Deena Thompson and James MacDonald visit a new simulation called Virtual Milwaukee at Discovery World. Wearing 3D glasses allows people to travel above and around downtown and the lakefront.
Virtual Milwaukee included more than a dozen photographers who took thousands of pictures that were integrated into the simulation software by students studying 3D modeling. Students studying civil engineering technology, graphic design and interior design also contributed. Jake Kuderski, a music occupations student at MATC, even composed a musical score for the project. The symphonic orchestral piece was called “Flight.” “It’s all electronic,” Kuderski said. “I just thought about viewing Milwaukee from above, flying over it in plane.”
The Virtual Milwaukee model Phase I contains one Square Mile of Low and High resolution Buildings and city streets of the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan Shoreline. Although Virtual Milwaukee has colorful 3D graphics and looks a little like a computer game, it’s a tool – not a toy – that can connect to databases with traffic, weather and other data so the virtual world can act as city planning software.
Now that MATC has an early version or Phase I to show off, the school plans to lure more local businesses and government agencies to join in building up the virtual city. “This [simulation] becomes our canvas,” said James MacDonald, associate dean of business, graphic arts, television and video production and music at MATC. “It’s really unlimited what we can do with this. There aren’t a lot of virtual cities like this out there. What we really want is for the whole community to get involved and help us take this in different directions based on what the city needs,” MacDonald said.
There isn’t any traffic on Virtual Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Avenue or joggers running along its lakefront yet. But MATC officials and others involved in the project say the software’s applications are endless. For example, architects can remove buildings from Virtual Milwaukee and add new ones to see how they will fit within the cityscape. Interactive virtual tour guides could be added to the simulation to escort visitors around town. A green technology company could add wind farms or solar cells to existing areas and simulate the results. The HIVE version of Virtual Milwaukee covers several square blocks of downtown, and it gives panoramic views with several familiar landmarks, including the U.S. Bank building, the Northwestern Mutual Life building and the Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum.
“The original goal for the whole project was to create a tool that Milwaukeeans could use to understand their city in a new way,” said Paul Krajniak, executive director of Discovery World, who thought up the idea of Virtual Milwaukee years ago. “We wanted them to be able to visualize what the opportunities are in the city. Anytime anybody takes something familiar and shows you a new way to look at it, it really takes your breath away,” Krajniak said.
About EON Reality
EON Reality is the world’s leading interactive 3D virtual meeting software and virtual reality software provider. EON’s solutions enable all organizations to more effectively visually communicate, collaborate and accelerate knowledge transfer. Industry leaders using EON’s solutions include Atlas Copco, Bechtel, Boeing, Bombardier, HON, Intel, Lexus, Lufthansa -Teknik, PeterBilt, Samsung, Siemens Medical, Suzuki, Toyota and Whirlpool, use EON solutions to enhance the interactive user experience to effectively increase sales, better communicate product functionality and decrease the cost of service, training and technical support. Educational institutions and organizations who have adopted EON’s SBL technology solutions include: the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology (located on the campus of the Florence-Darlington Technical College), Honolulu Community College, Old Dominion University, Marquette University, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Discovery World Museum, Oklahoma City Community College, Concord University, Texas State Technical College – Waco, El Paso Community College, Miami University_Ohio, University of Alabama, University of Hawaii, University of Kentucky and Fayetteville Technical Community College in North Carolina. For further information, visit www.eonreality.com.