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Animation Breakthrough

Rory Sheats and Kathleen Cason


"Our idea is to enable consumers to play interactive games with the same animation quality as recent DreamWorks movies such as Shrek."

Buckle your seatbelt, grab the throttle and taxi down the runway in a Cessna from the safety of your living room. Computer games like Flight Simulator seem pretty close to the real thing. And now a new invention developed at UGA may just make virtual air travel — and other interactive computer animations — even more realistic.

The new invention called Hellas is specialized computer hardware that makes objects on a desktop computer screen act as they would in the real world. For interactive software that includes complex graphic animations, Hellas would give home computers the computational power to respond immediately to keyboard commands or to realistically render objects that change shape.

"For example, if a real ball hits a wall, it becomes deformed briefly before bouncing back," said Shrirang Yardi, a UGA graduate student in computer science and one of Hellas'inventors. "Current graphics cards do not model that at all. The virtual ball just hits the wall without changing shape."

That's because current processors don't have the speed to do the huge number of computations needed to simulate the ball's split-second compression, Yardi said.

"Our idea is to enable consumers to play interactive games with the same animation quality as recent DreamWorks movies such as Shrek," said Benjamin Bishop, lead inventor and former UGA faculty member in computer science. "Without this computer part, your computer would not be fast enough to run these applications realistically."

Uses for Hellas include robotics, electronic entertainment and military combat simulations. When used in military virtual war games, soldiers could see effects of their actions immediately, such as how an artillery shell strike would deform a tank, Bishop said.

Comprised of a custom-printed circuit board, a specially designed chip with multiple processors, a specialized algorithm and other devices, Hellas could offer a unique alternative for virtual reality and interactive entertainment applications. The card's proprietary design would allow it to be added directly onto a computer's motherboard or to an existing graphics card.

The new hardware won't need much technical support and should be affordable, Yardi said.

The inventors include Bishop, now an assistant professor of computing sciences at the University of Scranton, Thomas Kelliher, a faculty member at Goucher College, and Yardi.

The University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc., recently filed a patent application on the invention.

For more information contact, Rob Fincher at


Research Communications, Office of the VP for Research, UGA
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