Mary Tutwiler

Seven samurai software guys

by Mary Tutwiler

Seven software savvy new hires will take on an army of thousands. That’s the buzz from LITE public affairs manager Erin Fitzgerald, who says Lafayette’s cutting edge Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise is investing in a software program called Massive, and bringing in seven web technicians who know how to use it. Massive is the program that populated the battlefields of Prince Caspian’s Narnia with centaurs and griffons, filled the plains of 10,000 B.C. with charging mastodons, and attacked Will Smith in I Robot.

Animation, visual effects, interactive video and virtual reality are just some of the offerings from LITE’s supercomputer. An example of visualization technology, says Fitzgerald, could help a heart surgeon facing a complicated procedure. “Suppose a surgeon needed to operate on a patient with a heart deformity he had never seen before. The surgeon could send data--MRI, CAT scans, X-rays. LITE feeds the information into the supercomputer and can project the problematic heart in an immersive environment. The cardio surgeon can walk into the 10 x 10 room which has screens on the ceiling, floor and all four walls. On each of the screens, the heart is being projected. The surgeon is then immersed in that particular patient’s problematic heart. That is a way he can plan the surgery. As the surgeon moves around in the room the imagery moves with him. He can see the virtual outcome of his surgery before the first scalpel is picked up, reducing risk and uncertainly.”

The high-tech visualization has all kinds of applications, but is something very few individuals or businesses can afford. That’s where LITE comes in, renting out staff and equipment for everything from architectural projects to video gamemakers. Fitzgerald says the current staff of 17 will swell to 27 by the time all the hiring is done. “We’re expanding and refining our capabilities,” she says. What’s next? 3-D animation, coming to LITE soon.