MERC is developing a 3D graphics viewer that allows the user to mark up the model in real time for data collection purposes. The tool then stores and translates the markup data into information useful to specific analysis systems.

The viewer is a web-based tool constructed on Microsoft XNA technologies that leverages gaming tools to provide a rapidly responsive user interface with a relatively small memory footprint.

The viewer can display 3D models in native Microsoft XNB binary format or from any other format that can be converted to XNB. The current implementation uses “SolidWorks” 3D models converted by the viewer application to XNB.

The tool provides full rotation, translation, zoom and fly-through capabilities, and can be manipulated with standard input devices (mouse, stylus, etc.). The application also creates exploded views of model components.

The viewer application is currently being used as part of a Portable Maintenance Aide for collecting structural and maintenance data on the C-130 aircraft for the US Air Force. The viewer provides the user with the ability to select major structural subcomponents or individual parts.

The user can then “draw” observed structural condition information, such as cracks and corrosion, directly on the affected component at the precise location of the condition on the actual aircraft. The viewer provides automatic translation and storage of the structured maintenance data.

Using this tool, data can be collected revealing conditions such as size, orientation, depth, exact location, related maintenance work, discrepancy codes, and other information useful for engineering, maintenance, and logistical analysis.