Development of Technique to Simulate Large Environment Textures with
 Z-Buffer Information, 07-9287

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Principal Investigators
Eric Peterson
Ryan Logan

Inclusive Dates: 01/01/02 - Current

Background - Large virtual environments, such as air traffic control towers, require very large databases describing the visible environment's contents: structures, landscaping, road surfaces, large flora, and terrain. Processing, presentation, and rendering demands placed upon the display system may be reduced through the application of simplified representations of various objects and structures in the far-field display. If objects very far from the point-of-view may be displayed with some simplified method, then the overall computational demands upon the system are reduced.

One means by which this process can be achieved is through the representation of very distant objects and features with two-dimensional bitmaps rather than three-dimensional geometric data. However, in environments where dynamic elements – such as aircraft or other large vehicles – interact with structures and features in the far field, partial occlusion of the dynamic elements requires that bitmapped features also contain range information, so that the occlusion may be achieved by interleaving rendered dynamic elements and fixed bitmap pixels.

Collection of far-field range information to reduce real-time rendering demands has historically been very labor intensive. Typically, a three-dimensional model of the far-field terrain and structures is constructed, and then a cycloramic rendering is made from that geometry using a custom-rendering module within a convenient animation package. This approach requires that the far-field features be surveyed, modeled, and textured. Typically, the textures are collected with photographs and applied manually to the modeled representation within the animation package.

Approach - Both texture and range information will be captured with an innovative device that captures environment bitmaps and simultaneously records the range information. The range information will then be stored as a z-buffer, or range data channel directly with the bitmap.

Accomplishments - A custom apparatus has been designed, fabricated, assembled, and integrated with specifically developed software. Individual off-the-shelf components have been modified to accelerate operation and data transfer rates. Substantial challenges involving color balancing and range and color texture correlation have been overcome. Image collection tests have demonstrated that the system is stable and resistant, as designed, to base vibrations.  A U.S. patent has been applied for under the title "Apparatus and Methods of Generation of Textures with Depth Buffers."

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