Visual Computing in Virtual Environments

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This thesis covers research on new and alternative ways of interactionwith computers. Virtual Reality and multi touch setupsare discussed with a focus on three dimensional renderingand photographic applications in the field of Computer Graphics.Virtual Reality (VR) andVirtual Environments (VE)were once thoughtto be the future interface to computers. However, a lot of problemsprevent an everyday use. This work shows solutions to some of theproblems and discusses remaining issues.Hardware for Virtual Reality is diverse and many new devices arestill being developed. An overview on historic and current devicesand VE setups is given and our setups are described. The DAVE, animmersive projection room, and the HEyeWall Graz, a large highresolution display with multi touch input are presented. Availableprocessing power and in some parts rapidly decreasing prices lead toa continuous change of the best choice of hardware. A major influenceof this choice is the application. VR and multi touch setups oftenrequire sensing or tracking the user, optical tracking being a commonchoice. Hardware and software of an optical 3D marker tracking andan optical multi touch system are explained.The Davelib, a software framework for rendering 3D models in VirtualEnvironments is presented. It allows to easily port existing 3D applicationsto immersive setups with stereoscopic rendering and headtracking. Display calibration and rendering issues that are special toVR setups are explained. User interfaces for navigation and manipulationare described, focusing on interaction techniques for the DAVEand for multi touch screens. Intuitive methods are shown that areeasy to learn and use, even for computer illiterates. Exemplary applicationsdemonstrate the potential of immersive and non-immersivesetups, showing which applications can most benefit from Virtual Environments.Also, some image processing applications in the area ofcomputational photography are explained, that help to better depictthe captured scene.