Developing Hardware and Software
for Image-Based Rendering

As an alternative to trying to create photorealistic computer-graphics environments, this research combines hardware and software development in the pursuit of visualizing computer models of complex three-dimensional environments taken from sets of real-world images rather than composed of polygon-based computer graphics. In the hardware arena, it is the latest step in our 16-year history of developing custom graphics hardware systems at the leading edge of rendering performance: Pixel-Planes (early 1980s-1997), PixelFlow (became operational in 1997), and ImageFlow (currently in the design stage).

Some potential effects of image-based rendering include:

The ability to construct immersive 3D environments for real places, enabling a new class of applications in entertainment, virtual tourism, telemedicine, telecollaboration, and teleoperation.

The implementation of systems that produce high-quality, 3D imagery with much less hardware than used in the current generation of high-performance graphics systems.

A hybrid with a conventional graphics system. A process called post-rendering warping may combine with a conventional graphics system to enable immersive 3D systems to be implemented over long distance networks and broadcast media.

We are using Intel-based computers in our continued development of image-based rendering software and hardware. Desktop workstations with 3D acceleration support the development of new image-based rendering algorithms. We are developing image-based rendering algorithms that appear to be appropriate for acceleration with Pentium III New MMX instructions. A high-speed laser rangefinder attached to an Intel-based PC is used to acquire the necessary range information, generating about 1GB of data per scene. Server systems are being put to the task of processing huge amounts of raw source data used in image acquisition and analysis. Desktop systems will assist our team in designing custom chips to go into the hardware systems we are designing. We also plan to investigate the use of an Intel host for this next generation of graphics hardware. Our previous systems have been hosted on UNIX workstations.

For additional information, please see the Department's Image-Based Rendering research page.

Last content review: 19 July 2001
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