1/2014

Exploring the ultimate visual experience

Atanas and Olli

 

“We want users to experience visual scenes in a three-dimensional way, like looking through a window and seeing all the vibrant colours and shapes, and not inferior replicas. The possibility to immerse in the recreated environment and interact with the visual content are other desirable characteristics of future visual technologies,” says Associate Professor Atanas Gotchev and Reseacher Olli Suominen.

 

TUT is launching a new research centre that combines expertise in emerging visual technologies with knowledge about the relevant user experience. “Our ultimate aim is to excel in ultrarealistic visual technologies which are capable of reproducing the richness of real-world scenes,” says Associate Professor Atanas Gotchev.

In the early days of cinema, people were thrilled with clumsy black and white films projected onto dusty cinema screens. In today’s hypervisual culture, it takes much more to get people excited: high-definition television, 3D imaging, high-resolution cameras, augmented reality, a promise of holographic displays, etc.

While bombarded by millions of pixels and colour grades, we remain hungry for new and compelling visual experiences. But how advanced can advanced visualisation be?

True-to-life realism and interactivity

The ultimate aim of current visual technologies is to achieve high levels of realism and enable an interactive viewing experience.

“Almost all fields of science and research need advanced visualisation in order to be able to produce new scientific and industrial applications. What has been lacking, though, are suitable facilities and equipment that allow researchers and visualization professionals to explore emerging visual technologies and the way people use and experience them,” says Associate Professor Atanas Gotchev.

Recruited as a tenure track professor, he heads the 3D Media Group within the Department of Signal Processing at Tampere University of Technology.

Serving the research community

To remedy this situation, a new Research Centre for Visual Technologies and User Experience is being set up at the University. The research centre, which will gradually start its operations in autumn 2014, will be fully operational in 2 years’ time. It is a joint undertaking between the Department of Signal Processing through its 3D Media Group and the Department of Pervasive Computing through its Unit for Human-Centered Technology. The project is led by Professor Gotchev.

The new research centre will offer end-to-end system solutions for capturing, analysing, modelling, compressing and visualising rich data on both real-world scenes and non-visual phenomena.

“Our concept is unique because we combine research on emerging visual technologies with the study of related user experience. We will provide the camera, sensor and display testing infrastructure and develop test and quality assessment methodologies to enable better decision making.”

“The aim is to help researchers make an informed choice about the visualisation technology that best serves their needs. Our services are meant for the research community, not for end users,” Gotchev points out.

The research centre project was made possible by the 1 million euros of funding awarded by the Academy of Finland through the FIRI2013 call for research infrastructures.

Where can advanced visualisation be used?

  • Architectural and industrial design
  • Entertainment, arts and sports
  • Life sciences
  • Physics
  • Education (e.g. teaching anatomy or surgery in medical schools)
  • Rescue operations and location scouting
  • Visualisation and interpretation of big data
  • Military use

When can we expect advanced displays to become commercially available?

  • High-resolution 4k (4 x full HD) displays: are already available but prohibitively expensive; mainstream in approx. 3–5 years from now
  • Light-field displays: in approx. 5–10 years from now
  • Holographic displays: in approx. 20 years from now

 (These estimates were provided by Associate Professor Gotchev)

 

Text: Leena Koskenlaakso
Photo: Mika Kanerva

 
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