Hasso-Plattner-Institut25 Jahre HPI
Hasso-Plattner-Institut25 Jahre HPI

Real-Time Visualization of 3D City Models

An increasing number of applications requires user interfaces that facilitate the handling of large geodata sets. Using virtual 3D city models, complex geospatial information can be communicated visually in an intuitive way. Therefore, real-time visualization of virtual 3D city models represents a key functionality for interactive exploration, presentation, analysis, and manipulation of geospatial data.
This thesis concentrates on the development and implementation of concepts and techniques for real-time city model visualization. It discusses rendering algorithms as well as complementary modeling concepts and interaction techniques.
Particularly, the work introduces a new real-time rendering technique to handle city models of high complexity concerning texture size and number of textures. Such models are difficult to handle by current technology, primarily due to two problems:

  • Limited texture memory: The amount of simultaneously usable texture data is limited by the memory of the graphics hardware.
  • Limited number of textures: Using several thousand different textures simultaneously causes significant performance problems due to texture switch operations during rendering.

The multiresolution texture atlases approach, introduced in this thesis, overcomes both problems. During rendering, it permanently maintains a small set of textures that are sufficient for the current view and the screen resolution available.
The efficiency of multiresolution texture atlases is evaluated in performance tests. To summarize, the results demonstrate that the following goals have been achieved:

  • Real-time rendering becomes possible for 3D scenes whose amount of texture data exceeds the main memory capacity.
  • Overhead due to texture switches is kept permanently low, so that the number of different textures has no significant effect on the rendering frame rate.

Furthermore, this thesis introduces two new approaches for real-time city model visualization that use textures as core visualization elements:

  • An approach for visualization of thematic information.
  • An approach for illustrative visualization of 3D city models.

Both techniques demonstrate that multiresolution texture atlases provide a core functionality for the development of new applications and systems in the domain of city model visualization.

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