VIRTUAL REALITY – What’s necessary to make it real?

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Sala Cavour - Centro Congressi Torino Incontra 
Wed, 25-10-2017, 18.30 - 19.30
Sat, 28-10-2017, 10.00 - 11.00

Donald Greenberg

Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Computer Graphics - Cornell University

This keynote presentation will graphically present what’s necessary to improve the current VR technology and its great potential for the future.

Virtual reality depends on our understanding of the human visual system, not just on what the eye “sees”, but how our brain interprets the information it receives. In these immersive systems the human is “in the loop”, creating responses far more powerful than simply watching a movie in a theater, a picture ona television screen, or a video on a smartphone.

Successful systems need to transit from “off-line” to “on-line” computing. Thus, future VR hardware and software changes will not be evolutionary advancements, but more like “a “tsunami” compared to the calm waters and incremental improvements of current graphics technology. The necessary skills required for these developments will be far more inclusive than in the past – not only computer hardware and software engineers, but alsoneuroscientists, perception psychologists, experts in color science, user interfaces, optics, and display devices, to name a few disciplines.

Major impediments still exist! The resolution of displays, particularly for near-eye displays, is woefully unacceptable! The rendering algorithms of the past will not suffice! Simulations need to be more accurate! And the computations must be completed fast enough to rapidly and simultaneously displaytwo stereoscopic images to portray motion. For the entertainment world, directors, animators, story-tellers and creative artists will have lost control of the viewer’s focus! Thus designers, producers, story-tellers, and animators will have to develop new methods to take advantage of these new technologies.

VR is not new. It has been demonstrated in the past. Why will it work this time? What has changed? Today’s environments and culture are not the same as a half-century ago. Raster graphics of the 1970s was tough to get started. Memory was limited! Processing wasn’t available! Algorithms were restricted and computation was expensive! The entertainment industry said computers would never be used for animation. At universities computer graphics was rejected by computer science and engineering departments.

But this has all changed. VR is here to stay! And AR may be even more significant. The technologies (not in its present form) will affect much of our daily behavior including applications pertaining to entertainment, education, medical care, travel, training and simulation, design, and most important, communication. But the changes in technology will be massive! In the words of Michael Abrash, CTO of Oculus, “It will be the Wild West again!”