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The Rest of SIGGRAPH 2013

Foveated 3D Display
Mark Finch – Microsoft Research

I have always been curious about eye tracking and its implications for user interface, input and display. The project that Mark Finch has been working on with Microsoft Research was really fascinating to see. Their system works to focus the rendering quality in a 3D display right in the region where your vision is the sharpest; the "fovea", which is a remarkably small area compared to the overall field of view.  The fovea is described as being about the size of your thumb nail when your arm is fully stretched out in front of you.

Their demonstration had a standard PC connected to nine 1920x1200 displays and an off the shelf eye tracking device. The software they have developed uses the information about where the user is looking to dynamically change the area of the scene that is rendered at the highest quality.

One thing that was really compelling about the demonstration system was watching other people using it. It was obvious where the system thought they were looking – the clear/high-resolution area moved around the screen and the contrast with the rest of the display was easy to see.  But when I sat down and had it working for me, it was shocking how I could not tell it was working that way! Wherever I looked was indeed sharp and the rest of the image did not appear to be lacking in visual quality. The clear advantage of the system was that it was rendering an overall 5760x3600 image at a higher frame rate focusing only on the area it knows the user is seeing clearly than if it was trying to produce the same quality over the entire display.

Autostereoscopic Projector Array Optimized for 3D Facial Display
XueMing Yu – USC Institute for Creative Technologies and Activision

I'm usually a little skeptical of systems that promise holographic autostereoscopic displays, particularly ones that say they support multiple viewers - but the projector array system on display by XueMing Yu and his colleagues from USC does look very good.

Their demonstration system uses 72 pico projectors arranged on a parabola all shining on a vertically anisotropic lenticular screen. Viewers are identified and their positions tracked with a Microsoft Kinnect, and the system warps multiperspective rendering according to who will see each column of projected pixels.

The actual display area is fairly small, but it surprised me how well it produced the illusion of there being a real object – especially as the viewer moves around to look at it from various angles.