Oct. 11, 2008 If mere texting, talking, e-mailing and snapping pictures on mobile devices aren’t enough to satisfy your data cravings, now there’s the prospect of accessing and displaying 3-D virtual reality simulations and animations on them. New information architecture from researchers in Offenburg, Germany puts 3-D visualizations in the palm of your hand to make this possible.
By devising a novel information and communication architecture with optics technology, researchers created a new approach based on outsourcing to servers all the heavy number crunching required by computer animations and virtual reality simulations. After churning through it, the servers then provide the information either as stream (avi, motion JPEG) or as vector-based data (VRML, X3D) displayable as 3-D on mobile devices. Dan Curticapean and his colleagues Andreas Christ and Markus Feisst of Offenburg’s University of Applied Science devised the approach.
"Since the processing power of mobile phones, smart phones and personal digital assistants is increasing—along with expansion in transmission bandwidth—it occurred to us that it is possible to harness this power to create 3-D virtual reality," says Curticapean. "So we designed a system to optimize and send the virtual reality data to the mobile phone or other mobile device."
Their approach works like this: Virtual reality data sent by the server to a mobile phone can be visualized on the phone’s screen, or on external display devices, such as a stereoscopic two-video projector system or a head-mounted stereoscopic display. The displays are connected to the mobile phone by wireless Bluetooth so the user’s mobility is preserved. In order to generate stereoscopic views on the mobile display screens, a variety of means can be used, such as a built-in 3-D screen or using lenticular lenses or anaglyph images viewed with special glasses having lenses of two different colors to create the illusion of depth.
The upshot of this new approach is improved realistic 3-D presentation, enhanced user ability to visualize and interact with 3-D objects and easier presentation of complex 3-D objects. "Perhaps most important," says Curticapean, "is the prospect of using mobile devices such as cell phones as a user interface to communicate more data with more people as an important component of mobile-Learning (m-Learning), given the ubiquity of mobile devices, particularly in developing countries."
The scientists are presenting their research at the 92nd Annual Meeting of the Optical Society (OSA), being held from Oct. 19-23 in Rochester, N.Y.
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