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Home | Seminars and Symposia | Past seminars/symposia: Tuesday, October 26, 2004

DTC Science and Technology Innovators Lecture Series

Immersive Integration of Physical and Virtual Environments


Henry Fuchs
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Tuesday, October 26, 2004
4:30 p.m. Reception
5:00 p.m. Seminar

402 Walter Library

Fuchs Chen Interrante

Henry Fuchs (center) with DTC faculty Baoquan Chen and Victoria Interrante


We envision future work and play environments in which the user's computing interface is more closely integrated with the physical surroundings than today's conventional computer display screens and keyboards. We are working toward realizable versions of such environments, in which multiple video projectors and digital cameras enable every visible surface to be both measured in 3D and used for display. If the 3D surface positions were transmitted to a distant location, they may also enable distant collaborations to become more like working in adjacent offices connected by large windows.


With collaborators at the University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, Advanced Network and Services, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, and ETH-Zurich, we at Chapel Hill have been working to bring these ideas to reality. In one system, depth maps are calculated from streams of video images and the resulting 3D surface points are displayed to the user in head-tracked stereo.


Among the applications we are pursuing for this tele-presence technology, is advanced training for trauma surgeons by immersive replay of recorded procedures. Other applications display onto physical objects, to allow more natural interaction with them — "painting" a dollhouse, for example. Recent results, with ETH, on imperceptible structured light, promise improvements in both 3D acquisition from multiple cameras and also auto-calibration of multiple, large area projectors.


More generally, we hope to demonstrate that the principal interface of a future computing environment need not be limited to a screen the size of one or two sheets of paper. Just as a useful physical environment is all around us, so too can the increasingly ubiquitous computing environment be all around us — integrated seamlessly with our physical surroundings.



Henry Fuchs is the Federico Gil Professor of Computer Science, Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Adjunct Professor of Radiation Oncology at UNC Chapel Hill. He has been active in computer graphics since the 1970s, with rendering algorithms (BSP Trees), hardware (Pixel-Planes and PixelFlow), virtual environments, tele-immersion systems and medical applications. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, recipient of the ACM-Siggraph Achievement Award, and the Academic Award of the National Computer Graphics Association.