Valorem Consulting

| Tags: Cocktail Term of the Week

Cocktail Party "Techie Term" of the WeekIt’s time for another round of our Cocktail Party Techie Term of the Week! This week’s techie term is Spherical Harmonics.

Geekier answerSpherical harmonics are the angular portion of a set of solutions to Laplace’s equation.  Laplace was a French mathematician and astronomer whose work was pivotal to the development of mathematical astronomy and statistics.  His work helped further the definitions of space between two points on a plane and the reciprocal distance between the points. 

Spherical harmonics are important in many theoretical and practical applications, particularly in the representation of gravitational and magnetic fields of planetary bodies (planets and stars if your head is hurting right now) and in 3D computer graphics.  In 3D computer graphics they play a special role in a wide variety of topics including indirect lighting and the recognition of 3D shapes.

Less geeky:  Evan Lang, our super-smart Research Director, gave a great analogy to help explain it.   Spherical harmonics work like JPEG compression.  JPEG compression is designed to work on rectangles, which most images usually are.  Spherical harmonics are basically the same idea but applied to the surface of a sphere.  For 3D lighting type of work, the compression is enormous, the compression is enormous, so much so that it enables us to do some pretty fancy things like nice, soft shadows that otherwise would take a lot of processing power to achieve.

Rotating Spherical Harmonics

Visual representations of spherical harmonics.

How does IdentityMine use spherical harmonics in our work?  Well, luckily our engineers don’t need to whip out the formula daily to come up with answers to Laplace’s equation but we have it in our back pocket thanks to the tools and methods we employ to create and design 3 dimensional objects and images in our software applications do.  In the end, it helps us to make engaging and visually stunning for our well-known clients on Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone, Xbox, Kinect for Windows, PixelSense and many more.  Check out our services to learn more about what else we do!




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