Course Abstract

ART 2907, ARCH 3702, CS 1620, ENGRI 1620
(Course fulfills MQR In/Out of College elective for Art majors)

No part of today’s digital environments is changing faster than VIRTUAL (VR) and AUGMENTED (AR) REALITY. Initially focused on gaming, these powerful immersive technologies are now being improved so rapidly that they are impacting the entertainment, simulation, education, medical, and design industries to name a few. As mobile phones have changed the telephone and photography industries, VR and AR may become our most popular means of communication between humans and certainly between man and the machine.

What is not realized is that VR & AR technologies are only in their formative stages, somewhat analogous to the difference between the early computer graphics of the 1960s to the digital cinema of today. It is not just the exponential increase in compute power and bandwidth but the convergence of many disciplines which enable this improvement and growth. Devices being created, from goggles and glasses to multiple-resolution displays depend on perspective imaging, color science, perception and the understanding of the human visual system, computer science, graphics algorithms, human-computer interfaces, hardware manufacturing, as well as the fundamentals of math, physics, and chemistry. All of the topics above except the fundamentals are covered in this course. This year new topics such as multi-resolution displays, digital cameras which create 3D images, foveal rendering algorithms and how signals from the retina are interpreted by the human brain will be included.

There will be two lectures per week and one recitation section approximately every other week. The lab sessions will be augmented by experiments and demonstrations at the state-of-the-art laboratory of the Program of Computer Graphics. There are no exams.

This semester, he is returning from a year-long sabbatical leave where he worked at Disney Research-Zurich, taught at the Swiss ETH and researched at Nvidia, Stanford and UC Berkeley working on foveated rendering with computer scientists, perception psychologists and neuroscientists. During his five decades of teaching, he has won the most prestigious computer graphics awards, and fourteen of his students have won Hollywood Technical Oscars. This may be the last year the course is taught. Next year he expects to teach a two-semester design course for both CS and design students and this course may serve as one of the pre-requisites. The new design course may be taught in collaboration with Disney, Pixar, Nvidia, Autodesk, Valve, Epic, Magic Leap, Zaha Hadid and others.