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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 1998, MCB UP Limited
http://www.polhemus.com/ Polhemus Incorporated
Polhemus' products specialise in measuring the position and orientation of objects in 3D space using electromagnetic technology. Initially developed for military applications, Polhemus products are now extensively used in commercial applications in fields as diverse as virtual reality, computer animation, biomedical research, simulation and training, and entertainment. The Website offers an insight into the company and its products, the various families of position resolvers and recorders. Each product is amply described with colour photographs and technical data, and there is an e-mail form for feedback or more detailed enquiries. An online video is available, though requires the downloading of the free VDOLine player (some two megabytes of code), if not already available on the viewing system. The site is not yet complete, with the promise of a number of manuals being available on line in the first quarter of 1998, though there is already a small amount of applications information for the existing user. A further insight into both the company and the application of its technologies can be gleaned from the copies of news reports and press releases, and there is a small FAQ section to reinforce the gist of the information. A section on links to compatible software gives access to anumber of other companies closely related in the field.
http://www.ascension-tech.com/ Ascension Technology Corporation
Rivals to the above, Ascension also makes a full range of motion trackers for virtual reality, simulation, entertainment, medical and biomechanical usage. Its technology is electromagnetics based, and to the company's credit the Website offers some interesting background information to both the development and application of the technology. This is in addition to the usual company and product profiles, contact information and press releases. There are also links to partners and developers whose hardware or softwaresupports the Ascension equipment.
Another commercial 3D tracking manufacturer, though this time with an inertia sensor-based technology. With the inclusion of novel predictive techniques, the company claim improved update speeds with lag time and jitter being largely eradicated. The page itself is little more than a company and product overview, though product specifications are available as downloadable pdf files.
http://www.orin.com/ Origin Instruments Corporation
Origin Instruments sells a 3D tracking system comprising a compact, self-contained sensor that measures the instantaneous three dimensional position of a passive target, primarily aimed at tracking the human head for use with advanced interactive displays. A simpleadhesive-backed disposable target gives the system position information, and for full6-DOF sensing there is an option of the active target adapter. A prime application of the technology is computer access for people who cannot use their hands. The site is a simple overview of the product and company contact information.
http://www.appliedphysics.comApplied Physics Systems
Applied Physics Systems is a manufacturer of orientation sensors, steering tools, fluxgate magnetometers, DC SQUID magnetometers and milliammeters. The Website is split between fluxgate magnetometers, steering tools and orientation sensors , and superconducting technologies. Applications of the sensors range from directional borehole drilling to sonar array direction detection and magnetic compasses. There is little peripheral information on the site, though there are quite detailed technical specifications of the products, mostly accompanied by photographs of the units.
http://www.kinetic.bc.ca/ Kinetic Sciences Inc.
KSI is a robotics and computer vision firm located in Vancouver, Canada. Its areas of expertise include innovative robotic mechanisms, computer vision, advanced sensors and autonomous control. Notably the company is the developer of the Tentacle® robotic arm and the Eagle Eye visual tracking system, the latter being the basis of the company'sTriangulator system, that offers target orientation and position information from the use of a single video camera. The Website gives an overview of the company and products, including photographs of the latter in action a QuickTime video of the tentacle in action is available.
Trimble is a world leader in commercial markets for GPS satellite-based navigation, positioning and communication data products. Its presence on the web is a very polished commercial site giving access to the company's huge range of GPS products for every conceivable application and market. In addition to the product specific information, the site has a tutorial aimed at the GPS novice which makes for compulsive reading; perhaps aimed a little low for the engineer, however this detracts little from the technical information it still covers. For those interested in 3D space sensors, the product described at http://www.trimble.com/products/specs/ frm_ml07.htm might prove of interest, a positioning/orientation determining system working from GPS alone. The site contains company information, customer support services and a search engine, the latter being quite necessary given the sheer volume of products, information and customer case studies available on the site.