Visualization is the lingua franca between designers but increasingly powerful computing resources combined with improvements in graphics systems have made feasible the idea of "computational steering" in which visualizations are sufficiently responsive to allow a user to explore them interactively. Coupled with the ability of advanced networks to deliver large amounts of visual data with little or no lag or latency this means that visualization has become interactive and collaborative. This is in itself transformative but the aim of this theme is to apply these new capabilities to real-life design situations. In this it seeks to answer the question: How can interactive and collaborative visualization support the design process in facilitating the assessment, planning, experimentation, knowledge management, and decision making of complex group processes in multi-criteria environments?

This theme will be developed by four interdisciplinary and multi-institutional projects:

  1. Data Capture of Design Information
  2. Virtual Cities and Communities
  3. Advanced Simulations of the Built Environment
  4. Virtual Design Studios

Data Capture of Design Information brings together the work of multiple researchers at institutions across Canada. Through the CDRN, Levy and colleagues (Dawson, Gadbois and Tait) will continue their breakthrough research using 3D data captured with large scale scanners for the interactive visual study of existing environments. This work has application in archaeology (where it may be problematic to physically disturb a sacred site); in facilities management (where "as built" drawings often do not exist for an industrial facility); and for performance (where actors can control the set around them). In particular this research will be expanded through the use of motion tracking and sensor technologies to create interactive feedback systems where the movements of the actors computationally steer the theatre set itself. Beesley, Bonnemaison, Macy and Revington and will apply this research in collaboration with performers and theatre technicians to create a new genre of performance.

In Virtual Cities and Communities, Danahy, Hall, Levy, Rynnimeri and Seebohm will work in concert with local communities to create photorealistic, 3D interactive models of Canadian cities that will include collaborative visualizations of future urban developments. Partnerships have already been confirmed with the cities of Calgary, Kitchener, Cambridge, Toronto and Waterloo. A particular focus of the work by Seebohm, Hall and Rynnimeri will be research into the use of parametric modeling to generate future development scenarios. Using similar techniques but at a smaller scale, Côté and colleagues at Laval University in collaboration with the Canada Research Chair in Urban Heritage at the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) will use interactive, collaborative visualization to facilitate understanding and identification of ecclesiastical architecture and the religious legacy of Québec and its urban context. Côté and Cassault will also use this technology in a design research project with the Innu Community of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam near Sept Isles in a collaborative project to determine how to best adapt bungalows built after 1960's to Innu use.

Advanced Simulations of the Built Environment provides a vehicle to link together a number of projects from across the country. Cirka, Dubois and Seebohm will explore the issue of physically accurate lighting using a variety of computational environments while Cole, Côté and Love will explore the role of natural light using interconnected daylighting labs. Using computational fluid dynamics Boulanger will develop interfaces to steer simulations of airflow inside and outside of buildings that employ computational fluid dynamics with the aim of creating an interactive design methodology for ductless climatic control within a building. Rivard will develop methodologies for immersive design reviews of complex engineering systems with partners such as Pratt and Whitney. Levy will develop a bobsled and luge simulator that immerses athletes in virtual world that can be shared between two locations and work with other disciplines in areas such as immersive visualization for kinesiology experiments in the study of game and play strategies (Levy, and Katz), haptic input for immersive environments (Levy and Parker) and in multi-user environments for teaching (Levy and Kopp).

The research team has also played a seminal role in the development of Virtual Design Studios. Boulanger, Côté, Danahy, Levy and Wojtowicz (a pioneer in the field) will work together with partners such as I-mmersion Studios and the University of Toulouse to integrate existing facilities into a comprehensive design collaboration network and to develop and test prototypes for the next generation of such facilities. A range of different options will be explored including nomadic but immersive systems and locationbased, multi-screen and stereo installations.

Research Case Studies

Visualizing Livable Cities

A vision of possible future development in Uptown Waterloo and around a Light Rail transit (LRT) station by Vincent Hui, Johnathan Wong and Thomas Seebohm. Models and images created with form.Z, 3dstudio, and Photoshop.

Screen capture from NeoPD of the 3D, virtual model of Uptown Waterloo Screen capture from Poetic Dimensions of the 3D, virtual model of Uptown Waterloo (corner King and Erb Streets)
Screen capture from NeoPD of the 3D, virtual model of Uptown Waterloo Screen capture from Poetic Dimensions of the 3D, virtual model of Uptown Waterloo (King Street between William Street and Willis Way)


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