While today’s sleek skyscrapers filling urban landscapes seem to embody modern and cutting-edge design, it’s often not until after these mammoth structures are built that hidden design flaws rear their ugly heads, sometimes with rather dire consequences.

In one particular case, these consequences included a building that was quite literally melting nearby cars.
London’’s year-old 20 Fenchurch Street tower is a stunner, but the same curved glass that gives the 37-storey tower the nickname, “The Walkie Talkie,” also has a knack for concentrating sunlight.

The result of which is a hot spot that melted part of a nearby black Jaguar XJ and cooked shampoo in a local barber shop. It’ has even been used to fry eggs.

Such “death rays” are growing problem, thanks to a new generation of glass-sheathed buildings with radical computer-designed curves. Those curves reflect — and concentrate — light in ways that have been hard for designers and engineers to predict.

At the recently held GPU Technology Conference, NVIDIA’ used the power of its GPUs to demonstrate how London’’s fifth-tallest building came to be known as the “”Fryscraper.”” The reality is that the Walkie Talkie building’’s solar glare could have been worse. If the building’’s curves were altered, even slightly, it could have created a beam of light hot enough to melt lead.

And Iray We Go

Rendering–the process of turning a digital model into an image on a screen–isn’’t new. Neither is ray tracing, which tracks the way beams of light interact with objects in their environment. What’ is new, however, is how the company’s Iray ray tracing technology takes advantage of GPUs to render detailed models in real-time.

Rather than relying on technology that takes hours to create a single, static image, or a snapshot, designers, using Iray, can view digital images as they work. They can see how light interacts with their design over long stretches of time–as the sun moves across the sky at different times of the day and year–rather than just a moment or two.

NVIDIA is developing plug-ins that will integrate this capability into the most popular design tools, putting this capability into the hands of most designers, something that can save time and potentially avoid trouble down the line.

Real-time raytracing can help identify hidden design flaws

I saw for myself the power of real-time raytracing rendering at a Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE event late last year. During one session a fully interactive visualization of a Honda car was shown. The demo didn’t just show a spinning digital prototype–which we’ve all seen before–but showed how a whole section of the vehicle could be “peeled” away in real-time to show specific components, down to the electrical wires and seat springs. It was fascinating.

Technology like this promises to solve a huge number of common design problems as well as some that aren’’t so common.

Read the rest here – via Barb Schmitz and 3dCadWorld

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