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DDI Press Release - For Immediate Release - January 2006
Aiding Their Speed
US Luge Team – Virtual Aerodynamic Analysis


With the new technologies available today, time and energy can be minimized without compromising precision. The US Luge Team has taken advantage of such technologies by utilizing virtual wind tunnel analysis to reduce the amount of actual downhill trials conducted by the team itself thus saving hundreds of hours and reducing risk.

Direct Dimensions, Inc (DDI), http://www.directdimensions.com/, a Maryland-based engineering technology firm was called on to assist the team in this new endeavor. DDI recently scanned three US Luge athletes and their luge sleds, creating 3D digital models for the virtual aerodynamic analysis. Team members were also scanned lying in their sleds in racing position and wearing their racing suits. The two-man team and their sled, and the one female athlete with her sled were separately scanned to construct complete 3D models to provide accurate and precise measurements for maximum aerodynamics, and a faster US Luge Team for the upcoming 2006 Games in Torino, Italy.

The advantage of having DDI scan the team and their sleds was to save time and money that would normally be used for actual downhill trials or very expense wind tunnel testing. The team was also now able to conduct computation fluid dynamics (CFD) with greater precision and accuracy given the exact human measurements of team members in relation to their sleds. The analysts were also able to view, on the computer, where their sleds would need improvement in order to maximize their speed and lower dragging.

Direct Dimensions, Inc. laser scanned and constructed accurate 3D models of the two males and their sled within a few hours, and even less time for the one female and her sled. This is minimally incomparable to the significant time and effort it would have taken the team to conduct their trials manually.

“Our advanced 3D imaging technology allows us to document objects down to the last intricate detail. The 3D digital model contains more information than a photograph by showing the precise dimensions of an object,” explains Michael Raphael, president, Direct Dimensions, Inc.

Here’s how the scanning process works: Direct Dimensions, Inc. measures in three-dimensional space – x, y, and z – using advanced scanning systems. The process involves scanning data with a 3D laser camera, producing full color 3D models. “The scanner is like the “barcode” scanners we see at the grocery store,” notes Raphael. Putting data together like a virtual puzzle, engineers create an exact digital model. What makes this extremely visual technology so remarkable is its ability to pick up fine details, such as sculpted lines, engraved names, even barely visible marks so that the “copy” is an exact replica—something that could never be accomplished with conventional measurement methods. As data is collected, the object becomes highly visible on screen and can be manipulated and studied in remarkable detail.

Having previously worked with the Olympics by recreating a sculpture for the Atlanta games, Direct Dimensions is a proud supporter of our teams. In previous years, DDI has worked with the kayaking effort as well. The firm aided in the process of designing and manufacturing the unique kayak paddles under the direction of one of former Olympic kayakers - the Hearn family.

As a leader in the field of digital modeling and reverse engineering, Direct Dimensions, Inc. has worked on an array of projects ranging from art and architecture to military and aerospace. Our expertise and success is evident in the numerous projects in which we have been able to apply our technologies to reduce time and effort while providing the most precise information available. Notable projects include recreation of the Tomb of the Unknown monument in Arlington, VA, the replication of the Liberty Bell, and the laser scanning and digital modeling for the design of the P.K.Dick Human Emulating Android featured at Wired Magazine’s NextFest technology showcase in Chicago this past summer.

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