Advanced Technologies for Virtual Environments


Interactive visualizations for design of complex environments containing millions of primitives, such as those of houses and ships, are severely limited by the frame rates obtainable using current graphics workstations. Use of advanced model-management techniques to reduce model complexity, while retaining essential visual information, makes interactive walkthroughs feasible. In this interactive experience, the user walks through a very large, complex model. It illustrates a variety of model-management techniques, such as visibility culling, dynamic tessellation of higher-order surfaces, static and dynamic model simplification, and textured impostors, to enable rendering at interactive rates.



The nanoWorkbench adds a PHANToM force-feedback device to a rear-projected display to allow the user to touch the objects that are displayed. This overlay of the visual with haptic spaces provides the sense of a solid object that can be prodded and molded by the user. The nanoManipulator system is connected to an atomic-force microscope to allow participants to move, bend, and stack "bucky tubes" on a sub-micron playing field.


 Image-Based Rendering

In the past few years, a new method of rendering has received a great deal of attention. This new approach, image-based rendering, uses one or more reference images as the basic primitive in contrast to the geometry used in traditional rendering. Since the reference images may be directly acquired from the environment through photography or video, image-based rendering promises to deliver a level of realism that has, so far, been unobtainable using traditional rendering. In this experience, the user walks though a real-world scene rendered from a set of captured reference images, rather than from traditional geometric models.

Mary Whitton
Department of Computer Science
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-3175 USA

Mary Whitton, Gary Bishop, Fred Brooks, Nick England, Henry Fuchs, Anselmo Lastra, Dinesh Manoch, John Poulton, and Russell Taylor