Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Research Report - Leonar3Do




A new 3D Virtual Reality Kit

“Obsession with all things 3D is hitting another level, with artists now given the option to sculpt three-dimensional objects. And we thought you could already do that in the real world. But if the virtual is what you prefer, Leonar3Do, a rather awkward name for a 3D art kit, lets you take control of space itself. Though for mastery of the third dimension, you'll have to don special goggles and wield the strangely named "bird," an odd-shaped air-suspended mouse needed to draw objects out of your PC screen.” - we could read it on the internet.

On the 21st September in 2010 a press release was published in Hungary, stating that a new Virtual reality Kit will be available in stores.

            Daniel Ratai’s invention, Leonar3Do won six first prizes in 2005 at the Intel – ISEF (Intel International Science and Engineering Fair) competition, although then it was just a test version. 1444 candidate from fifty countries participated on this fair, but the 20 year old Daniel was one of the seeded winners.

          A desk, a laptop with wires sticking out of it, spectacles with one red lens and the other blue (the spectacles wired as well), webcams, a pen and led were the components of the test version. This initial idea was written in Delphi, the hardware and the software were Daniel’s intellectual product.

The 20 year old was working on this innovation for one and a half year, because he wanted to draw beautiful cars in space. He found it ridiculous that first you have to draw what you want on a piece of paper, then you have to scan it and carry out other sessions in order to create a 3D model. When he found out that there is no device which could simplify this process, he created his own conception.

            After he won the prizes, many investors contacted Daniel to help him to create a marketable product out of Leonar3Do.

            In the past years the appliance went through a lot of development, so they couldn’t keep its price as cheap as they planed, but it gives more freedom to users.

Outcome of research

1.      About Leonar3Do

            Traditionally the most important and common tools for drawing are two-dimensional: paper and pencil. The same might be said of the computer monitor and mouse for the 20th century. The endeavour to make virtual reality available for everyday use as a new, interactive potential for creativity for the largest possible group of users, has been pursued by world-leading development companies and computer research institutes for decades, but the real break-through was still missing.
In order to make virtual reality available for everyday use as a new, interactive potential for creativity, 3D for All Ltd. wanted to provide a tool that meets the highest professional demands, but is still suitable for anyone without any specific skills or background.
Leonar3Do package includes the LeoWorld program which supports standard three-dimensional file formats (.obj, .stl, .3ds) so it is compatible with any 3D design software. LeoWorld is the program used to build our personal virtual world (managing 3D virtual objects, free form modelling, animation; drawing in 3D, sketching; creating 3D presentations; designing games, real time physics, etc.) The company provides an SDK (Software Development Kit) as well. Therefore any software developer can create, or connect any software to Leonar3Do.
The great value of this device is that it can expand ordinary personal computers into a total 3D work environment while fulfilling the seven classic market demands of mass use:
affordability for wide ranges of users
easy installation
simple, intuitive controllability
practical applicability
user-friendly ergonomics
a compact size suitable for comfortable storage even in small homes
easy switch between 3D and 2D modes


Up to the present, if people wanted to obtain a worth-while VR (Virtual Reality) equipment, they would expect to pay between 20,000-40,000 Euros. During the development phase, 3D for All Ltd. did not consider any technology solution that would result in a price higher than the targeted neat end user price. For implementation, the principals of VR configuration must have been placed on a completely new basis.
For a price that does not exceed the expenses of an average design software, the user gets a complex VR hardware novelty, which contains sensors, 3D glasses, an input device with six degrees of freedom, a central unit, and additional accessories – and also the required software, including freehand formatting, which covers a huge area of application on a market-making level. Additionally, users can also download free of charge the SDK (Software Development Kit) from the company’s website, which lets develop applications for Leonar3Do for virtually any purpose using only a few function calls. What’s simply ingenious about this technology is that it’s available now. Right now. People can order it for $1000 USD (700 EUR + VAT).

Easy installation

The actual use of a VR device starts with its installation. With Leonar3Do, this can be done by anyone by performing 5 main steps:
installing the DVD
fixing the sensors on the top of the monitor
connecting the cables
running the Leonar3Do system software
calibrating the sensors
Leonar3Do runs on Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 operating systems, with Linux and Mac OS X apps expected later.

Simple, intuitive use

The main components of the Leonar3Do interactive desktop VR hardware are:
the spatial input device (the 'bird') with six degrees of freedom
3D glasses and monitor-mounted sensors
The bird operates in six degrees of freedom, which means that you can not only move the individual objects or the whole space, but also rotate them.
The 3D glasses allow users to perceive a stereoscopic image displayed before the monitor area as three-dimensional object. The sensors continuously track the position of both the bird and the glasses. The applications generate, manage and display full virtual reality. The users can create their own virtual world in the space in front of the monitor: they can draw in space, create models and patterns, invent toys, make and play games, build structures out of predefined shapes, and much more.

Real interactive work environment

In order to create a real connection with the virtual world, the virtual objects displayed must behave as real objects. This means that irrespective of the head movements, virtual objects must remain 'fixed' in a position until the user manipulates them. This means it is not simply enough to display objects in space but also have a tool, a spatial input device, to work with the objects. This device, however, is different from the traditional two dimensional mouse, since users have to handle virtual objects in virtual space. Once this is accomplished users can interact with the virtual space created, they can create drafts, experiment with forms and ideas. Through Leonar3Do people can gain an incredible and important advantage they have never dreamed of.
Sculptors, animators, interior decorators, and dress-designers as well as everyday users simply purchase Leonar3Do, install it, and can start working with LeoWorld software. The device also comes with a DVD that shows a step-by-step video on how to start using it.
Other groups of professional users (e.g. the health industry, structural engineers, and the education professions) may require special applications to apply virtual reality to their field. The platform of Leonar3Do and the Software Development Kit (SDK) make it possible for everyone to alter the applications and tailor them to special needs, or even build new applications.
“We think, that Leonar3Do can help the designers make, in a much more simple way, mechanical 3D product designs faster. We think that we have developed an instrument for their hand which will open a new gateway for their creativity, and help establish a new kind of 3D design methodology.” – said Daniel.

User – friendly ergonomics

After doing a research on the internet for "virtual reality", I only found VR equipment suitable for special areas of use.
 VR equipment designed for general purpose, however, must meet additional ergonomic requirements. Leonar3Do was designed to be easy to handle and work for all people of all ages. Anyone can put on the glasses, hold the bird, and start working with images and objects in real time in the virtual space.

Compact size

To enjoy the benefits of virtual reality with Leonar3Do, users only need desktop space for the palm-sized control box, a few cables and connectors. Beyond that they need some extra space for the glasses and the bird to put them down when they are out of use.

Easy switch between 3D and 2D modes

This appliance works with ordinary PC configuration and does not alter it. Whatever the user is doing in space, with just one click he/ she can return to their notes, script or manuscript on the computer and go back to using the mouse. Leonar3Do offers the advantages of virtual reality alongside the 2D world as a complement to it, and not as a replacement.

2.      The story of 3D for All Ltd.

In May 2005, in Phoenix, Arizona at Intel ISEF, the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, Leonar3Do and Daniel Ratai were awarded six first prizes. Among them you find the Best of Category in Computer Sciences presented by Intel and the Best of The Best Award, plus the Seaborg SIYSS Award that entitled Daniel to give a lecture in Stockholm at a seminar organized by SIYSS and to attend the Nobel Prize Ceremonies of 2005.

One American member of the jury said:
 "Several world leading companies and research institutes spend billions of dollars on solving a problem, when a 19-year old teenager comes by and puts the system together using straws, Christmas lights, and fence wires."

After Daniel came home from America people from all over the country, of all ages and backgrounds hoped and expected that Leonar3Do would become a worldwide hit. His success story was common talk in the media, Parliament, and in everyday life. The company was founded shortly after the Phoenix success as a family business. His father is the communication manager and his brother is his manager. They are leading the company and are responsible for the young developer/ inventor. Daniel also has a partner, Zoltan Karpati.

      Development at 3D for All Ltd. was initially financed from governmental sources (Irinyi and Jedlik Ányos program). After building up the necessary infrastructure and the main group of developers, real development work started in May 2006.

 The objective for the first phase was to create a preliminary model properly demonstrating the capabilities of Leonar3Do.
In the second phase, the group created Leonar3Do applications satisfying special needs. With these applications one can perform experiments on molecular protein docking in pharmaceutical research and can model these in education. The R&D cycle took a turn when the company submitted a project plan together with the Institute of Experimental Medicine of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Femtonics Ltd. 3D for All Ltd. as head of the consortium won 75% of its cost of operation for 28 months of financial support.

The third phase started on 1st October 2007 and ended on 31st January 2010.

3.      The name

Leonar3Do as a name was originally conceived for a form design. The very first intention was to replace the centuries old 2D world of the paper and pencil with a 3D creation and communication. This new opportunity can be exploited in many different fields and could catalyze explosion-like development.
The hope was to emphasize the product with the name itself by joining 3D for All together with the name of the world’s greatest inventor Leonardo. The idea behind this name was confirmed worldwide by social needs long before entering the market.
The device itself is the first complex, interactive, desktop VR equipment and designed to be used by everyone. It is also small enough for a desktop, and affordable.
“Our company name which developed Leonar3Do is: 3D for All. We chose this name because we believe that we have created a desktop VR kit which serves benefits all industries and all ages. Of course, it is impossible for a development company which launches its first product on the market to serve every possible software applications; but the open platform of Leonar3Do and the SDK makes it possible for anyone to create or connect any kind of software application. Now, this is true for CAD applications too. We are clearly preparing for a break-through in this area. Therefore one of our aims was to create a product which is easy and intuitive to use – enough that even 8-10 year old children can install and handle it.” – declared the young inventor.

4.      Educational usage

Wherever this device is presented, the reaction is very impressive. Schools see Leonar3Do as a tool facilitating the shift towards experience-based education.
The development phase of Leonar3Do was still ongoing when the international jury called upon the Tech Museum of Innovation of California and awarded Leonar3Do the 2008 Tech Award, thus ranking it among the five most significant education innovations in the world. This was a clear signal: members of education are open and willing to integrate VR culture if it shows promise, use and applicability.
It is proven that learning through experience is 200 times more efficient than by reading books. Because this device is the cheapest comparing to other 3D VR kits, it is conceivable that in a few years time children will be learning in schools with the help of Leonar3Do.
Besides the educational side of the device, it also has a skill generative part.
Leonar3Do can be used to create any kind of forms, figures, or spaces. Simple animations can also be produced. Even young children can express their feelings and thoughts as artists. With the help of the physical engine and some artifice, even toys can be created on this 21st century platform. Thinking, navigating, and expressing ourselves in 3D is an inborn quality. Over the centuries, this quality becomes forgotten as we grow up and is replaced by our current culture which tends to confine us to two dimensions. However today's generations are brought up in a totally different world, they have to answer brand new requirements. 3D for All Ltd. Wants to help them by providing an environment for easy development where children can develop their own creative skills.

5.      Main Exhibitions, Demonstrations, Conferences

  • Didacta2007, Cologne
  • SIGGRAPH 2008, USA, Los Angeles
  • Tech Awards 2008 Gala, USA, San Jose
  • CeBIT 2009, Germany, Hannover
  • Pannon Role Model 2009 Award Gala, Budapest, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
  • Meeting Innovation 2.0, Innovationsforum 2009, Germany, Berlin
  • Night of Sciences 2009, Germany, Berlin
  • SIGGRAPH 2009, USA, New Orleans
  • Trend Conference 2.0 — 3D, the Visual Culture of the Future, 2nd December 2009, Budapest
  • Plenary session of the Conference of Hungarian Rectors, 15th December 2009, Szolnok University College
  • Health Industry as an Economic Take-Off Point — Conference, 4th March 2010, Budapest, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
  • Global Researches for Sustainable Development and Quality of Life — Prince Charles' meeting with internationally acknowledged young scientists at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 18th March 2010
  • Kairos Summit, New York, Stock Exchange, 16-17th April 2010
  • Churchill Club panel on Young Entrepreneurs, USA, Palo Alto, 24th May 2010

6.      Prizes

  • IEEE Computer Society, First Award
  • Patent and Trademark Office Society, First Award;
  • Intel Foundation Achievement Award
  • Computer Science - Presented by Intel Foundation, Best of Category
  • Computer Science - Presented by Intel Foundation, First Award
  • Seaborg SIYSS Award
  • 2005 - MIT Lincoln Laboratory named a planetoid after Daniel
  • In 2005 he was the first to be awarded the prestigious Gyorgy Olah Young Scientist Award by a Nobelist scientist
  • Spring 2008, the Prime Minister awarded Daniel Ratai's innovative achievements with the Youth of March state award
  • September 2008, San Jose, Tech Museum of Innovation: Tech Awards. The jury selected the Leonar3Do project of 3D for All Ltd. to be among the five most significant innovations of the world in the category of education, out of 329 candidates form 58 countries.
  • March 2009: Pannon Role Model Award
  • December 2009, the Conference of Hungarian Rectors took patronage over the education project of Leonar3Do.
  • April 2010, New York Stock Exchange, Kairos Summit: Intelius International Entrepreneurship Award. Out of the ten countries represented at the 2010 Summit of Churchill Club Panel on Young Entrepreneurs. The team developing Leonar3Do into a product was the only international prize-winner out of ten countries that gained qualification for the exhibition of Churchill Club Panel on Young Entrepreneurs in Palo Alto, 24th May 2010. Churchill Club is considered to be the number one business and technology forum of Silicon Valley.


            “The mission of our company is expressed by the name 3D for All. We aim at making virtual reality accessible for the widest audience possible, while exploiting the diverse capabilities of our invention to the greatest extent.” – declared the guys.

            An interesting aspect  is the company who developed the software and hardware and brought it to market. It wasn’t one of the big-name CAD, software or hardware companies. It stands to reason that someone like Logitech, Dassault, Google or Microsoft could acquire them, but it also shows how a few people can impact the idea of how we create models in 3D.

No comments:

Post a Comment