123D Creature and ICEmobile Augmented Reality

In a previous post I wondered if 123D Creature could be used to create 3D models for ICEmobile.

It turns out that it is compatible: as you’ll see in the video, we can easily create 3D models and view them in ICEmobile-SX. 123D Creature does indeed export Wavefront .OBJ files, however they are 25MB in size no matter how simple the “creature”. These exported mesh objects are simply too large and too detailed for web-based Augmented Reality views. ICEmobile-SX can certainly benefit from substantial optimization in its .OBJ parsing (and cannot feasibly load a 25MB file), but the other factor is that four 25MB model files yields a 100MB download just to view a set of Augmented Reality 3D markers.

So, we’re applying a technique similar to the ICEmobile media conversion that allows different mobile phones to play back each others’ recorded video. Instead of video conversion, we’re now making use of CGAL to perform mesh simplification, reducing our 25MB models down to reasonably detailed models of 1000 edges at only 20k. These simplified models are probably no longer suitable for 3D printing, but they are much more tractable for internet download and display. This becomes even more important when we consider additional uses for the 3D models, such as allowing multiple models positioned relative to the AR markers, or allowing models to be used as icons in the AR location view.

There are a lot of interesting improvements to work on, such as preserving texture mapping during mesh simplification, multi-threaded mesh simplification, other server-side model operations (booleans, extrusions, texture mapping), and last but not least: allow “Open With” in 123D Creature (but this is for Autodesk to work on, not ICEmobile).

“Open With” is the iOS mechanism for sharing files between Apps across the sandbox. As you can see in the video, without “Open With” in 123D Creature we must take a trip through iTunes once we create the model to upload it into the ICEmobile application. Ideally, model creation and augmented reality is a purely mobile experience with no desktop computer required, but this will require a simple code change to the 123D Creature App.

Let us know what you think — how are you using ICEmobile AR now, and are there a features you would like to see?

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