Visualization and Computer Graphics on Isotropically Emissive Volumetric Displays

The availability of commodity volumetric displays provides ordinary users with a new means of visualizing 3D data. Many of these displays are in the class of isotropically emissive light devices, which are designed to directly illuminate voxels in a 3D frame buffer, producing x-ray-like visualizations. While this technology can offer intuitive insight into a 3D object, the visualizations are perceptually different from what a computer graphics or visualization system would render on a 2D screen. This paper formalizes rendering on isotropically emissive displays and introduces a novel technique that emulates traditional rendering effects on isotropically emissive volumetric displays, delivering results that are much closer to what is traditionally rendered on regular 2D screens. Such a technique can significantly broaden the capability and usage of isotropically emissive volumetric displays. Our method takes a 3D data set or object as the input, creates an intermediate light field, and outputs a special 3D volume data set called a lumi-volume. This lumi-volume encodes approximated rendering effects in a form suitable for display with accumulative integrals along unobtrusive rays. When a lumi-volume is fed directly into an isotropically emissive volumetric display, it creates a 3D visualization with surface shading effects that are familiar to the users. The key to this technique is an algorithm for creating a 3D lumi-volume from a 4D light field. In this paper, we discuss a number of technical issues, including transparency effects due to the dimension reduction and sampling rates for light fields and lumi-volumes. We show the effectiveness and usability of this technique with a selection of experimental results captured from an isotropically emissive volumetric display, and we demonstrate its potential capability and scalability with computer-simulated high-resolution results.

Benjamin Mora, Ross Maciejewski, Min Chen and David S. Ebert
IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, March-April 2009, Vol. 15. No 2, pp. 221-234.