3D Interactive Inc.

2011 Finalist: Innovation In Information And Communications Technology Sponsored By TELUS

Alberta Company Transforms Video-Game Technology Into Industrial Training Vehicle

3D Interactive Inc. (3DI) of Edmonton, Alberta, is gaining a foothold in many industries internationally because of its creativity and innovative use of leading-edge game-based technologies for industrial training and visualization.

A New Approach

The world’s largest industries, including mining, energy and construction are increasingly using simulation-based training for young workers entering these industries. These new workers grew up with video games and are naturally attracted to interactive computer-based systems, rather than text based learning.

“Alberta has one of the highest concentrations of heavy equipment in the world, including large fleets in the construction, mining, energy, forestry and agriculture industries,” explains 3DI Founder and President Don Hauck. He started the company in 1995. “Alberta industry is recognizing the long-term advantages of having a workforce trained to operate large and dangerous equipment as efficiently and safely as possible.”

3DI is working with NAIT, Keyano College, the Oil Sands Safety Association and Western Diversification to promote best practice and simulation-based training in all the major industries driving Alberta’s economy.

“Creating top quality 3D assets requires a diverse mix of creative talents, professional skills, and superb technology,” Art Director Andrew Czarnietzki says of the staff of approximately 21. “3DI is a growing company with fascinating employment opportunities for some of Alberta’s brightest young minds, most of whom are trained in Alberta.”

The Accomplished Team

3DI’s technical team comprises engineers, industrial designers, programmers, 3D graphic artists, and artificial intelligence and gaming specialists. They design and create high-fidelity, physics-enabled digital versions of industrial equipment that looks, feels, and performs like the actual equipment.

At the core of 3DI’s development platform is the Epic? Unreal? Engine 3, one of the most advanced development platforms available, known for cutting-edge graphics and superior development tools. Epic’s Unreal Engine is the three-time consecutive winner of the Best Engine Front Line Award (Game Developer Magazine) and a Hall of Fame inductee.

3DI also developed its own pureLIGHT lighting system that has provided a significant advantage in fine tuning lighting and complex reflections within virtual industrial environments. In another innovative use of pureLIGHT, 3DI was able to simulate X-rays and hopes to use it to train technicians without exposing humans to the harmful effects of X-rays.


Powerful Applications

In 2010, Barrick Gold Corporation approached 3DI to improve the company’s ability to visualize its mines. Operating mines generally use LIDAR data to measure and map surface mining operations, involving extremely large data sets and the resulting images. Using pureLIGHT, 3DI has developed a technology that allows this data to be broken down and published in a game engine environment for use in visualization and simulation-based training.
As well, 3DI has taken a lead in developing multi-player capabilities – commonplace in entertainment video games – for industrial simulations, creating a robust system to provide advanced training features such as multiple ways to connect into, store, record, replay and continue simulations, while also providing multiplayer support.

“We are raising the bar in terms of physical and training realism, to enhance safety in industrial settings,” says Development Director Danielle Enns. “We want to make this kind of technology-based training pervasive in Alberta and worldwide.”