Years ago, I thought long and hard about putting in a dedicated home theater in my house. As an over-planner, I spent many moons just thinking about it, sketching out ideas, and doing tons and tons of research. Strangely enough, the room that was to be my dedicated HT, has since become a child's play room for my daughter (though I plan to make my living room into the best LR/HT combo it can be, but I digress). During all this planning, I was also starting my career as a computer programmer.
In 1996, I started work on a program to help me design my theater. At first, it was just meant for me. Much of the information in it was hard-coded around my room dimensions, furniture, and a couple of LCD projectors that I figured I might one day afford. Its initial function was mainly as a cheapo CAD layout program which just helped me reposition furniture, etc.
As I played around with the program, I added little features to it to make things easier for me. Then, one day, I looked at it and it occurred to me that if I added a few more features and made some of the hard-coded things adjustable, it just might be useful to other people. Who knows, maybe I could even make a little bit of money from it as well. Long story short, I made some changes to the software, but my interests got diverted and it has remained 95% finished for the last few years. I must say that I'm pleasantly surprised that during this time no one else (to my knowledge) has created a program like mine. Then again, perhaps that's because there's no market for it.
First let me give you an overview of what the software does (and doesn't do), along with its general purpose. First off, it runs on MS Windows. The general purpose of the software is not to be a CAD-level program which would allow you to design any shaped room and plan for the exact placement of studs, etc. Rather, it is kind of a "sketchpad" which allows you to plan for the overall placement of seating (including platform height for multi-row seating), front-projector position from screen, and ideal screen size and position. A good starting point is to think along the lines of PJCalc (which I didn't know about when I first started this software, or perhaps PJCalc didn't even exist then). Then, add in these additional features:
o Three view windows: Front-view, side-view, and top-view.
o The ability to change the screen size in real-time and see the projector move closer/farther from the screen as you increase/decrease the screen size.
o The ability to plug in other brands/models of projectors.
o The ability to position multiple rows of seats and have instant access to information regarding how far the seat is from the screen (both in inches and in terms of "x times screen width/height").
o The ability to see sight-lines from each row of seats, giving you an idea as to whether or not the head of someone sitting in the first row might block the view of the screen from someone sitting in the second row.
I'm posting here and now because I'm trying to figure out how to proceed with this. Basically, I'm trying to figure out if there is a market for this and, if so, what that market (or the best market) is. In other words, I'm trying to figure out if I should make this freeware, shareware, sell it to makers of FPs, sell it to makers of theater seating, sell it to professional theater designers, etc.
I'd imagine that many of you would feel the need to see and play with this software before you could provide accurate feedback regarding how I should proceed. Rest assured, this is coming. I'd like to set up a web site to provide screen shots, additional specs, and a downloadable demo, but this will take a little time.
In the mean-time, I'm interested to know what you all think based on the limited info I've provided you with.
PS - I'll also be posting this in the Construction forum, since I wasn't sure exactly where the best place to post this would be.
I'd much rather watch a great movie in B&W at 240 lines of resolution than a lousy movie in 1080p with lossless audio.