Virtual and Augmented Reality for the Visualization of Summarized Information in Smart Cities: A Use Case for the City of Dubai

Virtual and Augmented Reality for the Visualization of Summarized Information in Smart Cities: A Use Case for the City of Dubai

Sergio Casas, Jesús Gimeno, Pablo Casanova-Salas, José V. Riera, Cristina Portalés
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2112-0.ch015
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In this chapter, authors deal with the problem of visualizing summarized information in a complex system like a smart city. They introduce the topic of smart city in the context of the information revolution that is taking place in the world. Next, they review how this information can be visualized, highlighting immersive 3D methods such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), which are particularly suitable for these applications, since 2D information does not usually induce a focused and sustained attention. The chapter describes and shows a use case in which VR and Spatial AR (SAR) are used in a smart city system to visualize summarized information about the state and management of the city. The SAR system relies on a multi-projector mapping procedure, and therefore authors also explain the technical details that the calibration and implementation of this type of AR application requires.
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In the world of today, hundreds of thousands of e-mails, tweets, internet searches, images, videos, etc. are generated every day. Although computers are also capable of generating structured automatic information, a sizeable amount of these data is directly or indirectly generated by human people, so they are usually unstructured information that is difficult to manage and visualize.

In addition, the expansion of the Ubiquitous Computing (UC) paradigm and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), and more recently the Internet of Everything (IoE) makes possible to have millions of sensors sending data continuously about different processes and elements of our life: meteorology (temperature, humidity, light, rain), health (heart beat rate, weight, body temperature, exercise), presence and safety, sound, dynamics (position, speed, acceleration, orientation, inclination), space availability, proximity, pressure, traffic, energy consumption, etc. This information is multi-localized, multimodal, massive and, although it is usually well structured, it is heterogeneous, since the way each piece of information must be discretized in binary form, stored and visualized could be very different depending on the information device, the protocol or the data type. In addition, wireless sensors and wireless sensor networks have revolutionized the information sector and allow to have countless sensorization points spread over large areas of the territory with multiple purposes, making the management of all these elements very challenging.

Although most of this information can be treated in an automatic way by Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms and human intervention could be minimal, it is also very important that human operators and technicians be able to extract meaningful conclusions from these data. Therefore, with so much information, it is very important that we not only find ways to use wisely this information but also find methods to visualize and summarize properly all this information.

This is especially important in smart cities. The term smart city refers to a type of urban development based on sustainability that is able to adequately respond to the basic needs of institutions, businesses and the inhabitants themselves, both economically and operationally, socially and environmentally. A smart city is one that utilizes information and communications technologies to achieve their objectives, so city managers and citizens are given access to a wealth of real-time information about the urban environment upon which to base decisions, actions, and future planning (Jin, Gubbi, Marusic, & Palaniswami, 2014). The concept of smart city is closely related to big data (Al Ghamdi & Thomson, 2018), IoT (Dinc, Kuscu, Bilgin, & Akan, 2019) and even to home automation (Portalés, Casas, & Kreuzer, 2019) although on a larger scale.

One of the aspects that encompasses smart cities and their different areas of intelligent management is smart resource management (water, energy, food, etc.) and smart real-time traffic management, also known as smart mobility.

A key to future success for cities both in economic and environmental terms is that public administrations seek reliable and affordable real-time information systems that allow them to design more efficient strategies for resource and mobility management, among many other things. Nevertheless, this smart design does not end in the acquisition, processing and automatic use of data. It is necessary to design also smart visualization systems to provide summarized information about all these processes. AI and automatic processing/management can be sometimes obscure and it is of the utmost importance that humans be able to see what is happening to both check what the system is doing and also understand what is going on, and in some particular cases, why.

In this regard, this chapter has two major goals. First, we will review how the information about smart cities can be visualized, such as in (Kim, Shin, Choe, Seibert, & Walz, 2012). Second, we will show a particular smart visualization system that is used to visually summarize the information about traffic and energy management in a smart city.

In the first goal, we will briefly review the smart city concept and then the different methods that can be used to perform the visualization of this type of applications. Then, we will focus on how smart cities can benefit from different immersive visualization paradigms, such as Virtual Reality (VR) (Sherman & Craig, 2018) and Augmented Reality (AR) (Billinghurst, Clark, & Lee, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Projection Mapping: The process of utilizing video projectors in order to properly map images or video onto physical objects, so that the aspect of the objects changes.

Augmented Reality (AR): The technology that simultaneously combines real and virtual objects that are interactive in real-time and are registered in a three-dimensional space. Interaction : A kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another.

Virtual Reality (VR): The technology by which a user, stimulated with computer-generated perceptual cues, experiences an alternative reality that is different from the one he/she actually lives in.

Smart City: An innovative city that uses ICT and other means to improve quality of life, efficiency of urban operation and services, and competitiveness, while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and future generations with respect to economic, social, and environmental aspects.

Projector Calibration: The process by which a projector is adjusted so that the projected image accomplishes a series of desired properties. When dealing with digital projectors, a common goal is the geometric calibration of the projector, which means the calculation of the intrinsic (field of view and aspect ratio) and extrinsic (position and orientation) parameters of the projector.

Spatial Augmented Reality (SAR): A special type of Augmented Reality technology where the combination of virtual and real objects is produced by projecting virtual images onto real objects using projection mapping. Hence, display monitors, head-mounted displays or hand-held devices are not typically used in this type of AR.

Mixed Reality: The result of blending the physical world with a synthetic one, including the paradigms of Augmented Reality and Augmented Virtuality.

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