Walden 3 - Virtual reality (March 1998)

Landmark Founder Royce Nelson sets up VirtualReality Service Centers.

First there was Thoreau's Walden, the ultimate BPR expert whose philosophy could be paraphrased as "Just Don't Do It". Then Skinner came up with Walden Two (Do it Scientifically?). Now, H. Roice Nelson, Jr. - one of Landmark's founders - introduces Walden3D or rather the Walden Visualization System (WVS) - and invites us to "Do it Virtually". The WVS is available in several configurations from a wall projection viewer to a 3D surround environment in which you can spend some time in the company of salt domes, overhangs, thrusts or whatever geological problem you are confronted with. Nelson told PDM that WVS believe that 3D virtual reality has many applications in E&P interpretation, some of which may not have yet been thought of. A common trait however is that 3DVR applications will be centered around the need for teams to communicate with each other. The spatial nature of the oil business makes it a perfect for this technology. In fact the Shared Earth Model would seem a natural candidate for a walk around and inside by the team building it. Nelson claims that many multi million dollar decisions are still based on a limited amount of data, and the WVS is intended to provide everyone from explorationist, through driller to general manager the possibility to share the experience of the subsurface. The basic idea is that everyone understands their co-worker's data without the need for domain specific understanding of contours and grids.

Donkey Kong

PDM donned the special glasses and grabbed the mouse. The WVS is quite tricky to manipulate at first - you control the view by waving the mouse around. Menus pop up out of nowhere and react with a Donkey Kong sound to a mouse click. After a while you get the knack and we went for a wander round the backside of a salt dome - quite a novel experience. Walden Visualization Systems (WVS) has just signed agreements to package Foundation, Renaissance, and Continuum software from MuSE Technology, Inc. out of Sandia National Laboratories with VR-Viz from the University of Houston/NASA's Virtual Environment Technology Laboratory VETL. The WVS agreement with The University of Houston allows WVS to lease time on the VETL ROOMS (Reservoir Object Oriented Management System) and to make this time and technical support available to both VR-Geo consortium members and non-consortium members. These systems don't come cheap, an entry level system would cost about 0.5 $ million. And that is just for the Big Silicon Onyx supercomputer doing the number crunching. A more serious four wall installation will come in at about 1.5 M$ for the hardware and another 1M$ or so for the facility itself. Those of you in the Houston area can try out the system at one of the three True 3-D Virtual Visualization Service Centers : downtown, on Westheimer and in the energy corridor on the west side of town. More from info@walden3d.com

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