Seminars & Colloquia

Benjamin A. Watson

Northwestern University

"Human Graphics: Imagery That Works For Its Users"

Thursday March 10, 2005 03:30 PM
Location: 402-A, Withers NCSU Historical Campus
(Visitor parking instructions)


Abstract: The history of graphics to date is largely a technical history, focused on physics, mechanics, material science and hardware. This is now changing: graphics imagery must work for its users in perceptual, cognitive, social and practical terms. My work spearheads this basic shift. I will briefly summarize the scope of my work in this vein, and then delve into two components of that work in depth.

The first component is a new graphics renderer that is extremely adaptive to the user's view. While previous renderers were spatially adaptive, our renderer is both spatially and temporally adaptive. Closed loop feedback guides sampling to image regions that change significantly over space or time. Adaptive reconstruction emphasizes older samples in static settings, resulting in sharper images; and new samples in dynamic settings, resulting in images that may be blurred but are up-to-date. Compared to a standard full-resolution 60-Hz rendering, our renderer's output is of similar quality (as measured by root-mean-squared error), but is generated using an order of magnitude fewer samples. The renderer already adapts immediately to view and object motion, and is an ideal platform for other perceptual adaptations such as fidelity reduction in the view periphery.

The second is a new system for automatically modeling urban land use. A wide range of systems exist for modeling natural objects and phenomena, but there are very few systems that model human artifacts, despite the great need for such content in digital entertainment and simulation. We begin meeting this demand with a system that models cities, the largest and most complex of human artifacts. Our system uses agent-based simulation to model residential, commercial, industrial and transportation land use, producing 2D maps that automate the placement of buildings for artists creating virtual cities. Each city we create is unique but exhibits real-world development patterns, according to standard measures used by urban geographers. This work has been developed in collaboration with Electronic Arts, creators of SimCity.

Short Bio: Benjamin Watson is an Assistant Professor at the Computer Science Department of Northwestern University. There his group focuses on human graphics, ensuring that graphics works for its human users. His research interests are graphics and perception, adaptive rendering and modeling, procedural modeling of human artifacts (particularly cities), and graphical interfaces and applications. His work has been applied to digital entertainment and training, marketing and financial intelligence, medical therapy and assessment, and education. Watson earned his Ph.D. at Georgia Tech's GVU Center, co-chaired the Graphics Interface 2001 conference, chaired the IEEE Virtual Reality 2004 conference, and will chair the ACM Interactive 3D Graphics and Games conference in 2006. He is a coauthor of

Host: Dr. Christopher Healey, Associate Professor, Computer Science Dept, NCSU

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