Unlimited Detail claims to leave current 3D technologies in the dust
Unlimited Detail is definitely the most interesting technology demo I stumbled on today. In a nutshell: current 3D technology is based on polygons. Each 3D shape you see on the screen is made out of multiple straight facets (polygons). The more polygons (or facets), the rounder and more natural it seems. The current battle is all about polygon counts -- how many polygons can a certain graphics card render per unit of time. This metric has been rising 20% per year on average, for the past few years.
But polygons aren't the only way to display 3D information. Unlimited Detail works with dots, rather than polygons. The thinking is that if we use 3D "pixels" instead of flat shapes, objects can be far more realistic and lifelike because you don't have as many straight surfaces. Each object is composed of a mass of "dots" virtually positioned in 3D space.
This, in itself, is not a novel idea. A very similar principle exists in voxel technology. What is different about Unlimited Detail is the way they select what pixels to present. And this is where the "snake oil" bit comes in, because there is absolutely no hard proof for this one. They say they're applying "search technologies" to figure out exactly what pixels to show. In other words, while an entire 3D scene may contain billions of "points", you may only have 1024x768 (786,432) pixels on your monitor. So if there's a very fast way to figure out which of these points must be shown on each of the pixels, you get very fast 3D technology.
And this is what Unlimited Detail say they can do. There's an impressive (if quite smug) screencast after the jump, with a good explanation for novices (and potential investors, I'm guessing -- the site seems quite shoddy at the moment). Graphics experts in the audience, help me out here: Is this snake oil, or is it really the next big thing?