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Grand Challenge 8: Enhance Virtual Reality

A Hollywood virtual universe was known as "The Matrix," but virtual reality also is becoming a powerful tool for training medical practitioners, treating patients, and even creating cars and airplanes "virtually" to test design principles, ergonomics, safety and more.


Virtual Fog and Smoke Machine

Jacobs School computer scientists have cut the computational cost of making realistic smoky and foggy 3-D images such as beams of light from a lighthouse piercing thick fog.

Most natural materials behave like dense fog, meaning that light penetrates them to a limited extent. “This work has a lot of potential future applications,” said computer science professor Henrik Wann Jensen. Computationally slimmed photon mapping algorithms are at the heart of the advance. The developers found a way to collect all of the pertinent lighting information in computer generated scenes at once, which made the new photon mapping approach more lightweight than conventional photon mapping.

This work is helping to pull cutting edge graphics techniques out of research labs and into the “real world” of virtual reality. The potential applications for realistic virtual reality are broad and include treatment of social anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders, and a host of other research, education and training applications.

Virtual Fog and Smoke Machine
Jacobs School computer scientists have cut the computational cost of making realistic smoky and foggy 3-D images such as beams of light from a lighthouse piercing thick fog.