GCN Insider: 3-D glasses not included

We've known for a while that you can insert short movies or audio segments into a Portable Document Format file'it's great for when you want your document to talk to readers. But the latest PDF multimedia enhancement from Adobe Systems Inc. impressed us, even if the company itself seems rather blas' about promoting the feature. We're talking about the ability of PDF documents to display three-dimensional images.

With this feature, users can grab a static illustration and turn the object up, down, or around to examine it from novel angles. Or the image could be stripped of various layers to show its innards. The image could even be dynamic, showing the object in action.

The sources of these images are Computer Aided Design files. Adobe Acrobat Professional now allows PDF creators to import files from software by AutoDesk Inc. of San Rafael, Calif., SolidWorks Corp. of Concord, Mass., and other CAD programs, and display just the visual design, without conveying the underlying specifications.

For now, Adobe is limiting word of the feature to manufacturers, who could share CAD designs of complex systems, but there is no reason it couldn't be used elsewhere. According to Adobe product manager Rak Bhalla, a part specification sheet, for instance, could hold a 3-D image of the part, allowing a mechanic or parts clerk to examine it in greater detail. Or instruction manuals could actually demonstrate how to assemble or disassemble components.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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