Ever wondered what it would be like to walk in the rain forest? Have you thought of taking a trip, but didn’t the the idea of the vaccinations associated or the cost? Well the Advanced computing Research Centre has created a virtual world where you can take a stroll through the forest, look up at the canopy, view the ground and walk amongst or fly past the trees. This fully immersive experience is made possible using the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.
In collaboration with University College London, Dr Mark Burkitt at the Advanced Computing Research Centre has developed a virtual rainforest simulator. Several Hectares of the Rainforest in Gabon has been measured using a land based LiDAR scanner, which generated a massive cloud point dataset of the region. The simulation allows the full set of 36 scan sites, which has approximately 350 million points, to be navigated through and visualised in real time. Due to the massive amount of data being viewed, a set of novel data sorting, filtering and partitioning techniques were used to optimise the scene, and different rendering techniques were used compensate for the sparsity of data points in some regions of the scene.
These techniques can be used to visualise any cloud point data set in real-time. The finished environment allows a user to walk or fly through the simulation using a 3D mouse. The simulation can be experienced using the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, or a normal computer screen.
The Oculus Rift can be used to provide an immersive experience to any virtual environment that is just not possible using alternative modern displays, and far surpasses what is possible using 3D televisions and monitors.