3D integration for embedded graphical user interfaces

May 04, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
For companies developing embedded graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for automotive, medical, consumer and industrial applications, Altia’s GUI development software now offers enhanced support of animated 3D content for production embedded displays.

Describing it as a major step forward in its GUI innovation capabilities, 3D Scene Object brings the capability to integrate beautiful and informative genuine 3D content into displays. This enhanced feature gives Altia users the capability to take their embedded user experience to the next dimension, further differentiating their products in a competitive, UI-driven market.

The engineering team at Altia has test-driven this new capability; in one example, the team was able to demonstrate a 3D model with 14,000 triangles, six meshes and seven materials, including diffuse and reflection maps. This demo, which included animated camera, point light source as well as 2D graphics seamlessly interwoven with 3D content, ran at over 60 fps on embedded hardware.

The new Altia 3D Scene Object integrates content created in popular tools such as Autodesk Maya. It supports features including different light types, surface materials, and timeline animations. Textures are supported for diffuse, normal and reflection maps. These features allow for realistic 3D effects like shiny metal, rubbery tyre treads and transparent glass.

With the Altia Design 3D Scene Object, GUI developers gain extensive control over how they animate the three dimensional content in their GUI. A single timeline sequence of multiple animations can be split into discrete channels of animation which can be independently controlled. This means that developers can run a piece of the animation – like flutter the passenger door on a 3D car or bend an arm on a 3D patient view – without running the entire 3D animation of that object. The 3D Scene Object converts what would normally be movie playback into event-driven GUI animation since animations can be driven by real-time data or user interaction.

With Altia Design, the GUI editor and centrepiece of Altia's tool chain, users create custom graphics from scratch or use assets from tools such as Adobe Photoshop to draw their GUIs, create animation, define behaviour and optimise user experience. Once complete,