Vol.33 No.3 August 1999

Computer Graphics in Scandanavia

Lars Kjelldahl
Royal Institute of Technology

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Nowadays, computer graphics is a commonly utilized tool deployed both in universities and industry. A short overview like this can’t hope to cover all activities, but I’ve attempted to give some examples from the field in Scandinavia.

Overviews of computer graphics activity in Scandinavia have previously been published in Computer Graphics, 30(2) May 1996 (research) and 30(3) August 1996 (education). In addition, the journal Computers and Graphics had a special issue on computer graphics in Scandinavia in 1995. In this overview we won’t duplicate the material from the previous overviews, but rather attempt to give some additional examples of computer graphics research work.

CAVE Installations

During the last few years CAVE installations have become popular. A few such installations are listed below.

Stockholm, Sweden

At KTH, an advanced CAVE installation is used with a fully immersive visualization environment, 3m x 3m x 2.5m (W x D x H) including the display of images on all surrounding surfaces with four walls, floor and ceiling. Because all images must be projected from outside the room, the floor is raised 2.5m to provide the space for projectors and mirrors. To enable projection on the floor from underneath, the floor is made of 40mm-thick acrylic glass. For projection reasons, the same fabric that covers the walls and ceiling covers the glass. One of the Cube’s walls serves as a large door, which is hinged on the outside and is swung open to allow access to the room. Just outside the Cube, on the same level as its floor, is a 5 x 6m platform.

The bulk of the local applications are still based on the software CAVElib, although several other packages are used in different projects. A number of projects that use the Cube have been initiated. These include science-oriented applications (e.g. analysis of glacier flows, volume rendering of biological data and flows in a jet engine) and applications from other fields such as architecture.

3D-CUBE at Chalmers
Gothenburg, Sweden

The 3D-CUBE at Chalmers is a three meter wide cube with four walls and a floor. The system is designed to house a variety of applications related to engineering, science and architecture. The immersive space is part of a VR laboratory that also includes a lab for teaching software and a lecture hall.


The CAVE in Helsingborg uses three walls and a floor.

The Hydro CAVE
Bergen, Norway

This CAVE is mainly intended for oil industry applications.

Helsinki, Finland

This CAVE is currently a one-wall installation.

Examples of Research Work

Below we’ve chosen a few examples of the kind of work that can be found in Scandinavia.

Geometric Modeling at SINTEF
Applied Mathematics
Oslo, Norway

Contact person: Tor Dokken

Activities include geometric modeling with the topics: design, representation and computation of the properties of geometric objects.

Areas of application are first and foremost in mechanical engineering where the department’s tools are extensively used in various CAD applications. The department also works in the fields of medical imaging, geological modeling, animation and ocean wave modeling. Work has been done within dynamic visualization with NURBS models and also approximate implicitization of NURBS surfaces. Approximate implicitization is a candidate for effective ray tracing.

DIVA - Digital Interactive Virtual Acoustics
Helsinki University of Technology

Contact person: Tapio Takala

DIVA is a collaborative research group covering the following topics:

  • Real-time automatic character animation
  • Interaction through motion analysis, especially conductor following
  • Sound generation with physical instrument models
  • Acoustics modeling and auralization

The main “application” is a test case called Virtual Orchestra. Some features and goals of DIVA include:

  • Orchestral visualization including the kinematic modeling of orchestra members and their instruments
  • Automatic orchestra animation generation, and animation playback control
  • Conductor following aims to coordinate electronic music with human movements
  • Physical modeling of the acoustic musical instrument automatically produces sound that resembles that of the real instruments
  • The auralization part of the system has the ultimate goal of reproducing the 3D sound of a real space artificially in real-time

EC Research Projects

Contact person: Mikael Jern

Since 1997, AVS has been involved in several European Commission research projects related to visualization, Web and multimedia. Below are listed descriptions of three major ESPRIT projects.


The objective of the INDEX (Intelligent Data Extraction) project is to develop a toolset to improve visualization of large datasets produced by simulation applications. Three complementary streams of R&D cover data reduction, data compression and 3D data representation algorithms in scalar and vector fields. The project began in January 1997, and involves more than 13 person years of effort at a cost of 1.8MECU. The partners are AVS, Daimler Benz, Manchester Visualization Center, University of Stuttgart, Osservatorio Geofisico Sperimentale and British Aerospace.

The techniques implemented in the toolset provide methods for data reduction and information extraction that can be grouped broadly as follows:

  • Irregular sampling of volume data
  • Decimation of triangulated surfaces
  • Quantization
  • Lossless compression
  • Iconic and alternative visualization


The NOVICE (Network Oriented Visualization in a Clinical Environment) project will provide extendible Web-based visualization tools for medical applications. Emphasis will be on networked technologies, to enable both remote consultations with experts, and easy reexamination by physicians. NOVICE will provide a Web-based demonstrator and service center with parallel visual computing, accessible to all European hospitals, where advanced visualization tools can be easily reviewed by the end users. Twenty man-years‘ work at a cost of 3.1 MECU will be spent over the next three years. The partners include SGBL (Israel), SiESA (Spain), Rasna Imaging (Italy), Manchester Visualization Center, Foster Findlay (UK) and AVS (Project Coordinator), with several European Hospitals as end users.

A primary charter of NOVICE is to help the European hospitals to advance the state of the art in medical care. Deploying computer aided medical diagnostics (CAMD) tools outside the research facilities is a difficult challenge facing all research hospitals. NOVICE will provide a Web-based demonstrator and service center with parallel visual computing, accessible to all European hospitals, where modern CAMD tools can be easily reviewed by the end users. NOVICE brings together the expertise needed to develop such a European demonstrator. The NOVICE project will exploit HPCN technologies in a manner transparent to the end users.


The objective of our latest ESPRIT project called CONTENTS (Component Technology Exercised on NT Systems) is to develop customizable application components for the interactive visual analysis of data on powerful PC platforms. The data of interest are large multivariate data sets (engineering, medical and commercial) generated by simulation, modeling and measurement running in a distributed and heterogeneous environment, including NT-based Intel parallel processor and suitable UNIX platforms. The components will be based on the emerging industry standard ActiveX/DCOM architecture, and will be properly “bridged” towards CORBA based architectures, for multi-platform portability and compatibility.

Digital Worlds at CID
Centre for User Oriented IT Design
Stockholm, Sweden

Contact person: Sören Lenman

CID is a multidisciplinary competence centre located at KTH, the Royal Institute of Technology. At CID, computer graphics is used as a tool for different applications. The digital worlds project uses advanced prototype applications for information exchange, services, communication and cooperative work on the World Wide Web.

Volume Sculpting
Department of Graphical Communication
Technical University of Denmark

Octree-based volume sculpting is used in a system that allows sculpting by adding and subtracting solids, and sculpting with tools that are based on a spray can metaphor.

Two Additional Projects


Local Computer Graphics Societies

There are two national computer graphics societies in Scandinavia, the Norwegian Norsigd, established in 1974, and the Swedish SIGRAD, established in 1976. Both Norsigd and SIGRAD have affiliation agreements with Eurographics.

The Norsigd contact person is Wolfgang Leister.

SIGRAD contact persons are Lars Kjelldahl and Mikael Jern.

If you would like to provide an overview of computer graphics in your country, please contact one of our Computer Graphics Around the World columnists listed on the below.

Jose Encarnação
Fraunhofer-Institut fuer Graphische
Wilhelminenstrasse 7
D-64283 Darmstadt

Tel: +49-(0)6151-155-1301
Fax: +49-(0)6151-155-4301
Alain Chesnais
210 King St East
Toronto, Ontario M5A 1J7

Tel: +1-416-362-8558 x8589
Fax: +1-416-369-6156

Lars Kjelldahl
Royal Institute of Technology
Stockholm, Sweden

The copyright of articles and images printed remains with the author unless otherwise indicated.