Auckland firm heralds arrival of 3D documents

By Owen Hembry

New 3D technology from Auckland software firm Right Hemisphere may earn it billions of dollars and start a revolution in desktop publishing.

The Deep View software has been incorporated in Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader 7 and enables users to view and manipulate 3D content within PDF documents.

Company president and technology head Mark Thomas said its applications were almost unlimited.

Interactive three dimensional displays within documents could demonstrate how to change a car wheel or complex engineering such as the movement of fluid within a pipe.

"You'll be able to bring up a three dimensional car, choose its colour, go inside, toot the horn and try different accessories," Thomas said.

He said the launch was as significant as the desktop publishing revolution 20 years ago.

"Technicians, repair people and the consumers of the next 20 years will have grown up with Xbox and PlayStation.

"This is a format they understand and now for the first time it becomes a standard media type."

Thomas estimates the world market for 3D technology to be between $4 and $10 billion.

"Our investors believe we have a good chance of taking the lion's share," he said.

That would be a welcome pay-back after years of development at a cost Thomas is "embarrassed to say".

Deep View utilises the U3D file format developed by a consortium of leading companies including Right Hemisphere, Adobe, Boeing and Intel.

Graphics and digital media company NVIDIA said it will "remain in lock step" with the new development.

NVIDIA vice-president Jeff Herbst said Right Hemisphere was opening the way to widespread use of 3D data.

"Right Hemisphere's latest collaboration with Adobe will allow half a billion Adobe Reader users to increase their use of 3D and work smarter," Herbst said.

The appointment of US-based Michael Lynch as Right Hemisphere chief executive in 2000 reflected the importance of that market.

But Thomas said the company still had its heart and majority ownership in New Zealand.

The company, formed in 1997, employs about 40 people in Auckland and last year made it on to a list of America's 200 most innovative private firms. It is considering a sharemarket listing.

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