3D Laser Scanning and Hyper-Realistic Video Game Racing

From my NASCAR ride-a-long day at Atlanta Motor Speedway

This Christmas we have the release of two new video game consoles with stunning visuals and realism along with the raw graphics power that continue to be seen in PC gaming.  Gamers are demanding more realism and the industry is delivering.  One of the places this is most evident is in sports games and the very competitive racing sector.  Unlike football or basketball, where 1-2 companies have a contractual monopoly to make games, in racing there is tons of competition and companies look for an edge.

One company that has done that is is iRacing.com.  What sets them apart is the hyper realism of the tracks and cars as can be seen in this iRacing promo video.  To accomplish this they use laser scanning technology to create a 3D digital version of the track.  You’ll recall we talked about this before in relation to Augusta National and “The Masters”  on EA Sports Tiger Woods Golf, but now iRacing has brought it to racing in a big way.  According to iRacing.com’s track technology page:

“Our laser-scanning technology produces a mathematical ‘bump map’ of the track’s camber, cracks, undulations and patches – recording every millimeter of the surface.”

If you want to know more about the process they’ve made this video of the track laser scanning process with the results of their effort able to be seen in this game to real life comparison video.  A few sponsor signs may be swapped (maybe for financial considerations, copyright or simple track advertisement updates), but I’m sure you’ll agree it is pretty darn accurate.

Here’s a video comparison from Forza 4 of one of my favorite tracks, Road America, located in my home state of Wisconsin (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyzU02T4yhc).  Forza 4 didn’t use laser scanning, just a walk-around and pictures, and you can see it’s close, but not as exact as iRacing.  The good news is Forza 5 on the new XBox One does feature laser scanning!  I love this trend of our games becoming more realistic.  Remember the holodeck in Star Trek where a computer would instantly create a realistic physical world for people to interact with?  We may not be far away from room sized instant printers powered from large area scan data to make immersive world recreations  for our use.

4 thoughts on “3D Laser Scanning and Hyper-Realistic Video Game Racing

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