Interactive in the third dimension

A new player allows the interactive use of 3D screens

3D model of a spaceship bridge - now also interactive © Fraunhofer Gesellschaft
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Experiencing the bridge of a spaceship three-dimensionally or standing on stage at a concert - researchers are now bringing this vision of the future a little closer to reality: they have developed a player that allows the interactive use of 3-D screens.

Experience music, better than in a concert hall: Just a click of the mouse - and the music lover can look the guitarist three-dimensionally on the fingers. The joystick allows the audience at home to "run" across the stage and to experience the recorded concert from all sides. The sound resounds in the surround sound and moves with the viewer - he turns his back to the stage, it seems as if the sound came from behind. Such a scenario is still the future for concert DVDs or live broadcasts via the Internet and radio. The first steps are done, however.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Ilmenau have developed a novel player. It allows such interactive use for the first time even with screens that produce a three-dimensional image impression. "With our system, we can actively involve the viewer - for example, he can walk through rooms and select objects, " explains Uwe Kühhirt, who heads the development department at IDMT. "Likewise, an interactive selection of camera angles is possible. Environmental sensors, such as the brightness, temperature or the number of spectators, can be used to dynamically influence the scene - for example, the viewer can be integrated into the three-dimensional scene with the aid of a video camera. "

Two- and three-dimensional elements can be combined with each other on the 3-D screen. This is possible because every object - such as a person or a sound - is coded separately and integrated into the scene. "For example, in a room we have generated on the computer, we can put a person who we recorded in the studio, " says Kühhirt. From a three-dimensional scene, the player creates separate views for the left and the right eye, so the resulting overall image can be spatially perceived.

Even users without a 3-D display can benefit from the technology: Because the three-dimensional scenes can be played in principle on any display - whether on a mobile phone or a TV. "The player receives the data, such as a concert scene, and calculates the optimal image and sound representation for the respective playback system, " says Kühhirt. Interested parties can try out some interactive applications on a three-dimensional screen at the IFA International Radio Exhibition, which takes place in Berlin from 31 August to 5 September 2007. display

(Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, 27.08.2007 - NPO)