Adding 3D content to embedded UIs: Importing FBX models into Storyboard

3D elements add movement, dimension, and life to embedded applications. Aesthetics aside, they also enhance user experience and improve findability of information with a visual perspective that 2D graphics lack. As processors and GPUs evolve, embedded applications are becoming richer and 3D content more prevalent.

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We developed features for Storyboard Suite and a workflow that supports 3D artists, with the following in mind:

  1. Most designers already have 3D design tools that they are comfortable with and use regularly
  2. Designers want to be able to update their models in their 3D design software and easily re-add them to their project
  3. Designers may want to do minor tweaks to their 3D content in Storyboard after they’ve incorporated it into their application

Import FBX 3D models in Storyboard

With FBX 3D model import functionality, Storyboard allows designers to work in popular 3D design software that they already have familiarity with and can work efficiently in. A widely adopted industry standard, FBX models are imported into Storyboard with animations, textures, lighting, and other properties that make up the 3D model. The model isn’t static after the import. Designers can tweak the animations and make adjustments to fit their application.

Iterate until perfect

Iteration is a major part of UI design, and 3D content is no exception. Using the built-in simulator in Storyboard, designers can test their application with the imported 3D content and determine what changes need to be made to the underlying model. Updated models can be iteratively imported back into the Storyboard project until the team is happy with the final 3D content.

Change lighting and camera angles

When the designer is happy with the 3D model, they might want to make some tweaks and adjustments to things like animations, camera angles, and lighting to adjust how it behaves in the Storyboard application. These properties can be refined directly in Storyboard Designer, making it easy to create a well-integrated 3D/2D user experience.

Meet Ahren, a Crank Software 3D Designer

Ahren is a 3D designer here at Crank, working on Storyboard Suite applications that span automotive, medical, home automation, and other cool markets. Ahren chooses to work in Autodesk 3DS Max because it’s a tool he’s invested a lot of hours in, which means he can work in it efficiently and confidently. Having FBX 3D model support in Storyboard optimizes Ahren’s workflow. “It’s quick and easy to import. I can test the 3D content in Storyboard and update the model as needed. Textures, materials, and animations are all baked into the model which means the behavior is the same in the Storyboard application. I can also tweak lighting and camera angles directly in Storyboard until I am happy with it.”

Learn more about working with FBX 3D models in Storyboard from Fancy Dan in this awesome demo video.

If you aren’t using Storyboard yet, download a free 30-day trial and test-drive the functionality you learned about in this post.

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Attend our Animation Webinar to Build GUIs your Customers Want to Touch

Storyboard Animation Webinar. Create GUIs your customers want to touch.

In our modern connected society, screens are everywhere. In our homes, cars, workplaces, and as we navigate the ‘real world’, screens change how we perform daily tasks, drive, and work. Mobile devices have upped the ante when it comes to touchscreen experience and our expectations for the look and feel of embedded HMI interactions have risen accordingly.

Adding Animations to your GUIs

Flat and static displays don’t scream “touch me”, but they might get the job done. However, a little thoughtful and subtle movement can go a long way in improving not just the aesthetics of a display, but ease-of-use and intuitive interaction. While we don’t advocate you throw every effect and transition available into your design, incorporating responsible and consistent animations can add visual cues to guide the user and help them be successful at their tasks. Animations should enhance, not distract from, the task at hand, so no flashing elements or cat gifs.

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Super cute. But no.

If you are thinking, “What? No cat gifs? Teach me more!”, then you should definitely sign up for our next webinar, on July 27th, 11am EST. In fact, if you are at all responsible for creating GUIs for embedded devices you don’t want to miss this one. Our webinars contain 83% fewer slides than other webinars*, so it will be pretty great.

(Because modern marketing books tell us that readers love lists and that odd-numbered lists are better than even-numbered lists*, here are three reasons to register for our animation webinar.)

3 Reasons to Sign up for our Awesome Animation Webinar

  1. Awareness – Learn more about the benefits and technical considerations of adding animation and movement to GUIs for embedded applications.
  2. Best practices and trends – We’ve been developing applications for embedded systems for many years so experience has taught us a lot about what works and what doesn’t.
  3. Live demos – See live demos of the latest features and functionality in Storyboard Suite that make it easy to create, edit, and tune animations.

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If you can’t attend the live webinar, don’t panic. We always make our webinar recordings available for on-demand viewing.

If you haven’t taken Storyboard Suite for a test drive yet, download a 30-day free evaluation and try it out.

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*It’s possible I made these stats up

Experience Storyboard GUI Demos at NXP FTF Technology Forum

Storyboard GUIs at NXP FTF Technology Forum

Crank Software will be well-represented at NXP FTF Technology Forum 2016 next week in Austin, Texas, May 16-19. We will be running a hands-on lab again this year, as well as showcasing demo GUIs and Storyboard Suite features and capabilities at the exhibition. If you are going to the show, here’s what you can expect to see.

Exhibition Hall – GUI Design Demos

Visit the Crank Software booths (151 & 154) to check out a wide range of application GUIs designed and developed with Storyboard Suite. We will also be demoing the latest enhancements and features in Storyboard Suite 4.2.

You’ll find innovative Storyboard Suite demos in a number of partner booths at the exhibition as well, including:

Crank Software & NXP booths will be showing Storyboard Suite GUI demos that span automotive, white goods, and lifestyle applications on a variety of NXP iMX family processors. Not to be missed is the impressive Movie Theatre Kiosk, an interactive demo built with Storyboard Suite, running on the high-performance NXP i.MX 6QuadPlus on Linux with OpenGL ES rendering.

Hands-on Learning Opportunity – Storyboard Suite Lab Session

If you’d rather learn by doing rather than watching, we will be teaching a hands-on lab again this year, so make sure you rearrange your busy schedule at the show to attend our session. You’ll get your hands dirty in the 2 hour classroom session, so bring your appetite for learning and try your best to stump the Crank instructor.

Hands-on Lab – The Evolution of Embedded GUI Design: From Photoshop to Crank Storyboard Suite to i.MX Series Hardware in Minutes (FTF-DES-N2034)

When: Tuesday, 4:45 PM
Where: Griffin Hall 5 – Level 2
What: In this session, users will: import design artwork directly into Storyboard Suite; add interactive functionality and rich animations; test in the simulator to quickly refine and update the design; and deploy a functioning application prototype directly to an i.MX platform. After completing this workshop, users will be able to import artwork directly from Photoshop into Storyboard Suite, develop a rich application GUI, and deploy to hardware.

We will be tweeting from the show, so be sure to follow @cranksoftware for updates.
The NXP FTF hastag this year is #NXPFTF.

If you haven’t taken Storyboard Suite for a test drive yet, download a 30-day free evaluation and start designing today.

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See you at the show!

 

Storyboard Suite Automotive HMI demos at Car HMI USA 2016

Crank Software at Car HMI April 25-26

Over the next few months we will be attending several shows to showcase the latest features and functionality in Storyboard Suite 4.2, as well as a number of innovative, multi-market demos we’ve built that highlight the range of application GUIs that can be designed and developed with Storyboard.

First up is automotive with Car HMI USA 2016 next week in Detroit, April 25-26. If you plan to be at the show visit us to check out some automotive HMI demos we’ve built with Storyboard Suite. You’ll be able to touch and interact with the demos and chat with one of our UI designers about his experience using Storyboard Suite to bring his designs to life.

For examples of HMI applications designed with Storyboard Suite, check out the QNX Bentley Concept Car, the Mississippi State University EcoCAR, and demos we brought to CES 2016 earlier this year, including a digital instrument cluster that was part of the QNX Software Systems interactive command center, which showcased vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology.

If you aren’t going to the show, you can always download the 30-day trial and try your hand at making awesome automotive HMIs.

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HMI Design with Storyboard Suite for Renesas RZ/G Series MPUs

Storyboard Suite HMI on the Renesas RZ/G1MWe create a lot of demo applications to show the scalability of embedded GUIs designed and developed with Storyboard Suite.

In previous posts, we’ve shared Storyboard HMI demos on Renesas RZ family processors, such as the RZ/A1. Today’s demo showcases Storyboard on an RZ/G1M.

The Renesas RZ/G series of processors features high performance for rich animations and enhanced UIs that include 3D graphics and HD video. This digital instrument cluster demo built in Storyboard Suite takes advantage of these advanced UI capabilities.

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