Dave Eichhorn, Editor TheSpaceNews.com
A photo of the earth from the high-flying vantage point of an orbiting satellite is an impressive way to view our planet. Now imagine how cool it would be to see a photo like that in 3-D—and to be able to do it without having to wear those awkward glasses.
Some of the technology developed by a new company named Green Bay 3D is already being used to do exactly that. The company is part of a group currently working with China to use 3-D satellite images as a way to help the crowded country deal with infrastructure challenges. The optical material for those 3-D satellite images will be made by Green Bay 3D. Green Bay Mayor, Jim Schmitt said “Our nation and community rely heavily on imported goods produced in China. The fact that Green Bay 3D will be driving against sea traffic and shipping its material to China and beyond just shows how cutting edge this technology is and how goods manufactured right here at home are competitive worldwide.”
Why is the new 3-D technology significant? The scientists at Green Bay 3D who invented this printing and software system point out that typical satellite images today are incomplete. 3-D on a computer screen cannot be viewed without motion. However, once the motion is stopped only a perspective view is seen. Hard copy of space imagery is flat or requires stereo-glasses. Decision makers do not have the complete visual information to personally make informed decisions and usually rely on “expert opinions”. This new technology literally changes the landscape for the multi-billion dollar market for satellite still images by allowing the decision maker to see what is going on with his own eyes in a manner he is accustomed to, in 3D!
But space is not the final frontier for 3-D photographs. Dr. William Karszes, chief operating officer at Green Bay 3D, says the applications range from sports and entertainment tickets and memorabilia to printing family photos at home. But what he is really excited about is that his company’s patented printing and software system includes features that are a major deterrent to counterfeiting, a $600 billion worldwide problem.1
“The reason this works so well is because we’ve figured out how to control space in a photo, so we can mass produce 3-D images that look incredibly realistic,” said Karszes. “Our work is paving the way into technology where 3-D images can be viewed at any distance or direction and show great depth of field without glasses.”
As a pilot program for printing with this new technology, Green Bay 3D recently printed media passes for Georgia State University’s first-ever football game. It is a nice souvenir for the media who covered GSU’s inaugural game, but more importantly, it showed off elements that make this 3-D printing technology such a great weapon in the battle against counterfeiting.
“What you see in the media passes we printed for the Georgia State game is that you not only get a realistic feeling of depth, but we also combined some subtle features in the image, including lights in the stadium that turn off and on, floating words that change colors, and a disappearing football in the coach’s watch,” said Karszes. “Features like these can be combined into images on everything from game tickets to the tags and labels on official merchandise that counterfeiters won’t be able to duplicate.”
“When I saw these 3-D photos I was incredibly impressed,” said former University of Alabama head coach and present Georgia State University head football coach, Bill Curry. “I wouldn’t be surprised if some day soon we’ll see this 3-D technology used by a lot of sports teams for everything from programs to game tickets.”
Atlanta-based printer Geographics Inc. worked with Green Bay 3D to print Georgia State’s media passes on Heidelberg Speedmaster 102 presses and plates. “The potential for this is very exciting,” said Greg Rozier, chief operating officer of Geographics. “This 3-D technology is head and shoulders above everything else I’ve seen.”
Of course, Green Bay 3D certainly isn’t the only company working with three-dimensional images. But Karszes says the distinction for his technology is the quality of the image. He explains that he and his team have developed new algorithms to control the print quality and depth of field for the piece being produced. The quality is further enhanced by the manufacturing process being utilized, allowing Green Bay 3D to reproduce images with consistently high quality.
“Our European affiliates’ research and development on civilian satellite images in 3-D without glasses was a major step forward,” said Jerry Nims, chairman of Green Bay 3D. “The superior image quality is obtained using a system that passes light from the original object through several steps. The light is then transmitted to the eyes with a physical structure that is compatible with the human visual system. This transmission is done using micro optical material integrated into printing surface.”
That is quite a mouthful, but Karszes says the bottom line is that anyone wanting to replicate an item—such as currency, passports and driver’s licenses—would need the original substrate, ink, software and key code.
He adds that using this printing technology is like putting a piece of paper into a shredder. The company’s algorithm combines up to 50 different source images, breaks them down microscopically, and reorganizes them into one encrypted image. Karszes says it is virtually impossible to go back into the system and falsify it. If somebody wants to lift out a logo or a photograph, they cannot.
“The packaging industry is a sleeping giant as far as our product is concerned. One global beverage company told me that they lost $600 million a year because of counterfeiters. If we can recover even a quarter of all lost revenue for a company, it’s a huge gain,” said Karszes.
Green Bay 3D is currently securing financing to locate a plant in Wisconsin, a major center for the printing and packaging industries in the U.S.
1 Counterfeiting Intelligence Bureau