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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Back to the Farm

We have built a pretty neat system. It is a spatial storing and processing platform.

If you check the origins of this project, you'll see it was about using a server farm to store and process 3D content. This system is the realization of this early goal.

The system can store virtually unlimited data, it can cover millions of square kilometers at a sub-millimeter resolution and it can serve a virtually unlimited number of concurrent users.

As it is today, you would use it as a self-serve website, like Dropbox but for spatial data:

We can take raw data in the form of point clouds, heightmaps, imagery, meshes, etc. and convert them into more useful things like terrain surfaces or volumetric models. You can view these datasets right in the browser.

The really cool part is the parallel processing. Thanks to this aspect, we can compute complex volumetric operations and other queries on the data in real time. For instance, we can compare two different snapshots of terrain and show what has changed:

In the near future, we will link the Voxel Farm plugins for Unity and UE4 to this system, so you can easily share these datasets among team-members and even end-users.

The first release of this system will be very oriented towards the geo-spatial and mining industry, we will focus on entertainment projects a bit later.

I will be covering this in more detail in future posts, but if you are intrigued by this drop me a line to miguel at and I will send you a link.


  1. I'm sure you can understand that people will be a bit skeptical when you say "The system can store virtually unlimited data, it can cover millions of square kilometers at a sub-millimeter resolution and it can serve a virtually unlimited number of concurrent users." Could you tell us a bit more about how you achieve this? Like is it basically a super smart compression system or something else?

    1. These are bold claims so we do not mind close scrutiny.

      The key to the platform's scope and detail is that it can run on top storage layers that also make the promise of virtually unlimited data. We are currently using the Amazon cloud, so this system could take as much data as Amazon can store.

      On top of this, there are layers of compression and most important, the ability to segment the work and data into separate sections that can be processed in parallel.

    2. So in oversimplified terms, it's like a 3D google maps-like system, stored on the Amazon cloud?

    3. Yes, with one key difference: In Google maps the content is static. The surface you see is not the result of a dynamic query, but a mesh that is baked into a database and then sent over to the browser client. In our case, we can generate the surfaces on the fly. This is a big deal because it allows to perform custom operations on the data.

    4. Right, so you mentioned an unlimited number of users, this is a natural extension of cloud stuff. Are the changes real time? Or is it more of a "You make changes, and every few seconds it uploads those changes to the cloud"?

    5. There are different types of change. One type is when you upload or produce information at large scale. In this cases you are dealing with many gigabytes worth of data. These feel more like files in Dropbox, they show up and become available for use when the uploading/processing is done.

      A different type of change is a user making holes or adding material somewhere in the world, and everyone else sees the changes in real time.

      We will be rolling out support for the first type of change first.

  2. Looks incredible, and interesting uses. Obviously I like the entertainment aspect of all this, but makes sense for more serious uses too.
    Good luck.

  3. Smoke and mirrors.