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By RON GALLAGHER, Local Tech Wire
DURHAM, N.C. — Presented with a high-power view into the world of 3D computing and imaging, people who attended Local Tech Wire’s Executive Edge presentation Wednesday had a lot to take away and to think about for their businesses.
One was Kelly Campbell, president of Interface Technologies in Raleigh, a firm that helps businesses turn ideas into software to accomplish them.
“We work in teams, our teams and client teams,” Campbell said. The presentations he saw in Bay 7 had him thinking about the possibilities 3D offers for interaction. How, he wondered, can the “team space” of interactive 3D “help people intersect?”
As head of a small firm – 10 people – Campbell sees the world of teaming connectivity as a way for firms like his to do “just in time” staffing, bringing together talent for a project as needed rather than having to pay fixed costs for more and more employees whose expertise may not always be the best match for a project. The kind of 3D technology that speakers at the conference described can enable companies to “draw on resources as needed” to assemble teams without spatial constraints.
The 3D event, which was sponsored by Hosted Solutions, FeatureTel, Intersouth Partners and MMI Public Relations, focused on the emerging market demand for 3D. Topcis of presentations and a panel discussion ranged from how technology and entrepreneurship enabled the blockbuster success of the movie “Avatar,” how 3D can impact education and workforce training, the emergence of the immersive Internet and much more.
Presenters included Richard Boyd, director and chief architect for Lockheed Martin’s Virtual World Labs in Cary, Duke professor and author Tony O’Driscoll, Richard Kristof, founder of American Research Insitute, along with executives from Insomniac Games and 3D software firm Geomagic. Boyd, O’Reilly, who once worked at IBM, and Kristof are among 3D pioneers who also happen to call the Triangle home.
Hosted Solution’s Kip Turco served as master of ceremonies for the event.
RTP has been the site for some of the cutting-edge development in 3D from software, such as Geomagic, to the former Virtus, founded by David Smith who teamed up with author Tom Clancy to form gaming company Red Storm Entertainment.
Campbell, like several attendees, also wondered aloud how the 3D world can help him expand. “How can we build these systems for our clients?”
Michael J. Florio, CFO of Scale Finance, a firm that aids entrepreneurial businesses, said he thinks the technology discussed is “going to help break the logjam” in financing for innovation. The excitement that 3D generates will loosen purse strings that have been pulled closed in the recession, he hopes.
The advent of the 3D experience in entertainment, led by “Avatar,” is a consumer business opportunity for Tassos Markas and Heinz Seltmann, Jr., of 3DMedia, they said. Their business is helping consumers turn 2-D images into 3D forms that can be displayed on televisions, computers or other screens rather than being confined to a photo album on a table.
The onrushing 3D world moves people to ask, “How can I create my own?” Markas said.
Teresa Spangler, founder and managing partner of Plaza Bridge management consulting, said she was excited by the opportunities that 3D offers for teaching and learning inside and outside the corporate world. Having worked in the video and graphics space with training, Spangler sees the commercial potential of the technology, she said.
She also has “a passion around girls” and their growth as strong people, Spangler said, and she wants to learn “how to take all this great (3D) stuff we’re doing and not just make money with it.”
How Does North Carolina’s Talent not Shine?
Several of the people interviewed after the session agreed with speakers who said they are puzzled by why the immense technological and intellectual capital in the Triangle region is not more widely known.
“This area is very knowledge-based,” Campbell said. “We’re very well lined up” with the opportunities that 3D technology provides as the next wave for interaction. Areas with economies built more on things and less on ideas might not be as adaptable, he said, but the Triangle is all about ideas.
Noreen Allen, marketing vice president at Hosted Solutions, echoed the confusion about why more isn’t known about Triangle resources. The 3D world offers an “opportunity to position the Triangle as a hub” for the technology, she said.
“Where is it? What am I missing? Why isn’t it in front of us,” Scale Finance’s Florio said of North Carolina’s under-the-radar status for some of the innovative technology here. Those resources should not come as a surprise in other parts of the country, he said.