3D visualization today has ever-expanding applications in science, education, engineering, medicine, interactive multimedia like games, etc. Producers of graphics processing units (GPU) â€“ are specialized electronic circuits designed to rapidly manipulate and alter computer memory in such a way so as to massively accelerate the visualization of 3D environments â€“ bring ever faster products to the market every six months which is rapidly increasing the possibilities of near future visualization/simulation methods.
Little teaser of our work
Figure 1 (click the image to enlarge):
3D volume raycasting performance test - naive method vs. our method.
NVidia's volume raycasting demo (naive implementation in CUDA) on a GTX 460 GPU
with 336 parallel CUDA cores.
(middle + right)
Our volume raycaster on a single core CPU (in plain C89 language).
123 fps (middle)
219 fps (right)
All 3 volumes are of identical size of 32^3 voxels and have been tested on the same system (AMD Athlon II X3 445, 3.1 GHz). Unlike the NVidia implementation our demos, and their relevant performance results, include the non-stop animation of the material texture and the computation of a distance map at every frame, besides the conventional raycasting.
About real-time ray-tracing
In computer graphics, raytracing is a technique for generating an image by tracing the path of light through pixels in an image plane and simulating the effects of its encounters with virtual objects. The technique is capable of producing a very high degree of visual realism, usually higher than that of typical scanline rendering methods (see games), but at a greater computational cost.
Thanks to the ever faster graphics hardware real-time raytracing is going to be the replacement of contemporary raster graphics (direct3d, opengl) and part of everyday life very soon.
About real-time photon-tracing
Photon tracing is a rendering method similar to raytracing for creating ultra high realism images. The method aims to simulate realistic photon behavior by using an adapted Raytracing method, by sending rays from the light source. Each ray keeps bouncing around until it is absorbed by any material. Even though the image quality is superior this method has one major drawback, namely the render times.
Thanks to the ever faster graphics hardware and to the latest breakthroughs in photon tracing algorithms this method is going to be real-time and part of everyday life (not restricted to movie theaters only) soon as well.
About augmented reality
Augmented reality is a variation of virtual reality as it is more commonly called. Virtual reality technologies completely immerse a user inside a synthetic environment. While immersed, the user cannot see the real world around him. In contrast, augmented reality allows the user to see the real world, with virtual objects superimposed upon or composited with the real world. Therefore, Augmented Reality supplements reality, rather than completely replacing it. Ideally, it would appear to the user that the virtual and real objects coexisted in the same space.
Crocotta predicts that augmented reality applications are going to penetrate and massively transform society (bring it to the next level of accessible information) within the decade.
Particle based visualization & simulation
Large scale volumetric environments with particle physics.
Procedural genaration of virtual (in-) organic structures.
Next generation (volumetric) gaming without the use of polygonized meshes.