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Report on CG International 97
23 - 27 June 1997
Kinepolis, Hasselt, Belgium

CG International 97 was organised by the Computer Graphics Society, the Expertise Centre for Digital Media, and Limburg University Centre. It was in cooperation with ACM SIGGRAPH, British Computer Society, Eurographics, IEEE TC in Computer Graphics, IFIP WG5.10, and the Virtual Reality Society.

The Inauguration of the Conference was performed by L. Van Den Brande, Minister of the Government of Flanders, and the Vice-CHancellor of Limburg University, H. Martens.

The Keynote Address was given by Professor Henry Fuchs, Federico Gil Professor of Computer Science and Adjunst Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The address was entitled "Enabling Superman's X-ray Vision - Seeing is Believing" and was concerned with the use of augmented reality to supplement the information we receive from the real world.

Developments in computer and display technology are now making it possible combine synthetic 3D objects and real world data in such a way that more accurate information can be conveyed to the viewer. This has applications in medical procedures, training, and evaluating architectural plans within their settings, to name but a few.

The technical challenges to realising this goal are as follows:

For medical applications, there is the possibility of "putting the 3D image at the correct position inside the body". In order to "see" this in the right place in the merged image, it is necessary to "remove" parts of the body which occlude the image. This is the obverse of hidden surface removal!

Tracking the user's head is difficult with commercial trackers. There is the possibility of image-based tracking and hybrid tracking which also allow predictive tracking. Higher resolution leads to higher cost.

The speed of image generation and update is still a problem. Lag dominates all other sources of error. Insufficient throughput and frame rate usually leads to resolution being degraded in order to achieve a reasonable update rate.

With regard to image generation, the ideal solution is to have the image in the same place as the eyeglass. In reality this is not yet possible, so there are problems of alignment. Real and virtual images need to be combined correctly to avoid misleading 3D cues. The video cameras need to be on the same optical path as the user's eyes.

In order to maintain correct hand/eye coordination, it is essential for the user to have the correct view of the real world which is exactly aligned with the 3D virtual world.

As less invasive surgical procedures increase in scope and success, it is inevitable that technology will continue to assist in providing support that is effective and efficient and correctly complements the surgeon's skill.

Further Invited Presentations were given by Prof Bruce Blumberg, Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT Media Laboratory, Prof T L Kunii, Director of the Laboratory of Digital Art and Technology, Japan, Mr Carl Machover, Machover Associates Corp, Prof Nadia Magnenat Thalmann, University of Geneva, and Mr Rob Myers, Cosmo Software, Silicon Graphics Inc.

Prof Blumberg described the research work at MIT Media Lab on autonomous characters in the ALIVE project. In order to be convincing and life-like, such characters must demonstrate motivations, reactions, adaptive behaviour, and display variability. Characters can be linked to staging and interaction. Potential application areas are "smart" avatars, interactive story telling environments, digital pets, and adaptive opponents for game playing and training scenarios.

Prof T L Kunii presented "Characterising Images based on Lines for Image Indexing"; Carl Machover outlined the "Internet Business Opportunities"; Prof Nadia Magnenat Thalmann presented "A Flexible Texture-Fitting Model for Virtual Humans"; and Rob Myers spoke on "From Pages to Places: The Web as Encounter".

The Conference also had a full programme of refereed papers describing current research results in the areas computer graphics, rendering, virtual environments, modelling, curves and surfaces, graphics architectures, and simulation. Tandem sponsored the Prizes for the best papers.

The Proceedings are published by IEEE Computer Society as "Proceedings CGI97" (Order No PR07825, ISBN 0-8186-7825-9)

R A Earnshaw