Virtual Reality and Point-Based Rendering in Architecture and Heritage

Virtual Reality and Point-Based Rendering in Architecture and Heritage

Omar A. Mures, Alberto Jaspe, Emilio J. Padrón, Juan R. Rabuñal
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0029-2.ch004
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Recent advances in acquisition technologies such as LiDAR, range cameras and photogrammetry have put point clouds once again in the forefront of several fields with applications in Computer Graphics, Vision and Machine Learning, such as civil engineering, architecture, heritage and archaeology. Taking also into account new progressions in Virtual Reality that are also making VR relevant again, the possibilities when using these two technologies together are endless. From the improvement of architectural workflows, to the conservation of important ancient monuments, these two technologies can improve current efforts substantially. This chapter focuses on how these two fields can be combined in new and innovative ways, so that professionals can optimally exploit the advantages that these improved technologies can offer.
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Point-based rendering has been around for a while (Levoy & Whitted, 1985), but lately there has been a renaissance in point-based graphics. This is a consequence of the increment in acquisition hardware precision, and the decrement of its cost. Examples of point clouds used in heritage applications can be seen for example in (Boehler, Heinz, & Marbs, 2002). This work highlights the potential in the usage of laser scanners and point clouds to document cultural heritage sites. Furthermore, in (Yastikli, 2007) we can see another example in which the aforementioned technologies are proved to be extensively useful in heritage applications. In addition, in (Doneus et al., 2011) a new low-cost computer vision approach to obtain point clouds in archeological excavations is detailed. These new methods, in conjunction with new low cost hardware that will be presented in the next sections; present a huge opportunity to improve current workflows in heritage research.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Rendering: The process of generating an image or set of images from a 2D or 3D model, by means of computer software.

Out-of-Core: Type of algorithm that is designed to process data that is too large to fit into a computer's main memory at one time. These algorithms must be optimized to efficiently fetch and access data stored in slow secondary memory such as hard drives.

Point cloud: Set of vertices or points in a three-dimensional coordinate system. These vertices are usually positioned in 3D space and have a set of coordinates (x, y, z). These sets of points normally are representative of the external surface of an object.

Computational Creativity: Computational creativity (also known as artificial creativity, mechanical creativity or creative computation) is a multidisciplinary endeavor that is situated at the intersection of the fields of artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, philosophy, and the arts. The goal of computational creativity is to model, simulate or replicate creativity using a computer.

Haptic Feedback: Haptic technology, haptics, or kinesthetic communication, is tactile feedback technology which recreates touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user. This mechanical stimulation can be used to aid in the creation of virtual objects in a computer simulation, to control such virtual objects, and to improve the remote control of machines and devices. It has been described as “doing for the sense of touch what computer graphics does for vision”. Haptic devices can incorporate tactile sensors that measure forces exerted by the user on the interface.

Virtual Reality: Which can be referred to as immersive multimedia or computer-simulated life, imitates an environment that simulates physical presence in places in the real or imagined worlds. Virtual reality can recreate sensory experiences, which encompass virtual taste, sight, smell, sound, and touch.

LiDAR: Remote sensing technology that measures distance to a target by illuminating it with a laser and analyzing the reflected light.

Photogrammetry: The science of making measurements from photographs, especially for recovering the exact positions of surface points.

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