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Highlights from SIGGRAPH Asia 2018, Tokyo

I had the great pleasure of attending SIGGRAPH Asia in Tokyo this year. SIGGRAPH is the annual conference on computer graphics convened by the ACM SIGGRAPH organisation. The first SIGGRAPH conference was in 1974, and there are now many, many chapters in the world. The conference is attended by tens of thousands of computer professionals.

SIGGRAPH Asia was certainly very impressive as a first time attendee. While the conference has strong roots in computer graphics – these attract a crowd annd topics from film-making, animation, art, interactive technologies (AR/VR/XR), internet of things, haptics and so forth. For me, it was really exciting and inspiring to see these applications and to think about how they can also be applied to solve problems in the built environment field – to architecture, urban design, planning and geography. While initially daunting, it was found there were many things here that represent future directions for built environment work. I have summarised six of my favourite displays, demos, briefs and presentations from SIGGRAPH Asia this year. I really look forward to next year in Brisbane!

Technical Brief – Automatic Site Selection of Cultural Venues

The authors presented a novel approach to support site selection of culture venues using machine learning. These techniques are a very unique approach to many of the traditional GIS and spatial analysis approaches done by planners.

Contributors: Tian Feng, Tomasz Bednarz

Technical Brief – Automatic route planning for GPS art generation

The authors presented a novel approach for the automated route generation of GPS artwork, which is described by leaving virtual traces on digital maps. This is quite interesting as it also created a new-purpose form of routing algorithm to try and draw pictures.

Full article: https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3275510

Contributors: Andre Waschk, Jens Krüger

MR360: Immersive Mixed Reality with Live 360 degree video

DreamFlux Presented MR360 Live, a new way to present 3D virtual objects into live streamed 360 videos. This provides the illustion of interacting with objects in the video. They presented applications of augmented ‘teleportation’. The users can add and interact with super realistic digital objects in the video and create their own augmented / mixed reality world. Amazing potential for urban design, co-design, and community engagement!

Full article: https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3275501

Contributors: Many, see article!

Art Plunge

Art Plunge is a virtual reality experience where you can get the feeling of being transported to the inner worlds of famous paintings. The authors have created VR-interpretations of works like Mona Lisa, Starry Night and the Birth of Venus.

The authors explore the concept of what a painting could be in virtual reality, and how different boundaries are blurred in the process: Boundaries between our interpretation and the original painting, between technology and artistry and between now and then.

Full article: https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3275510

Pac in Town

“The player is the star” was Bandai Namco’s futuristic vision for mixed reality entertainment. At SIGGRAPH, users were able to test out the collaborative augmented reality PacMan game. While it wasn’t 100% refined, you cannot argue when playing this you saw a glimpse of the future – and great to share an AR view with others.

Presented by : Hirofumi Motoyama, Bandai Namco Studios Inc., Japan

Full article: https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3275511

Trajectile Command

Trajectile Command is a free WebVR game. WebVR is an emerging technology standard which allows Virtual Reality experiences to be accessed directly from a web browser. The advantages of WebVRover traditional VR experiences is that a user can access content without requiring any third party apps. Trajectile Command is similar in philosophy to free flash games, except in VR. In this capacity Trajectile Command is one of the first of its kind. The game can be played at www.micosmo.com/trajectilecommand. It was not so long ago I was personally experimenting with WebVR of cities, so great to see this kind of stuff is still progressing – and becoming more interactive!

Created by Adam Twite.


Experiments with DeckGL – Population and Transport in Sydney

Deck.gl is a WebGL-powered framework for visual exploratory data analysis of large datasets.

Below are some works in progress of Deck.gl powering analysis of GTFS-Realtime data for Sydney (the information about where exactly the whole network is at any one time) as well as population and employment projections for Sydney. While the framework is reasonably straightforward to use – the process to get the data from the feeds to be read into the framework was quite a burden (I will try and push these to GitHub if anyone asks).. Now to get them online ; and with more buttons! 🙂

DeckGL Flows – Sydney GTFS Test – Oliver Lock May 2018 from Oliver Lock on Vimeo.

An example including buildings generated from cutting mesh blocks out of the road network, with a height based on population density.This provides us with images that look more like the real city, rather than flows running through empty space.

Zoomed out, with buildings, you can see the incredible organic development patterns of Sydney and how transport supports fringe areas.

Population density explorer – so much potential using this hex bin / pipe method to show information. Here we can get very fast renderings for the population density of the whole country. Providing toggles / buttons you could switch between variables (population / employment) as well as past data and future forecasts.


Perspectives on the Planning Institute of Australia National Congress

This year I had the pleasure of attending the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA)’s National Congress in Perth. Perth really put on a great show; highlighting that they are producing some really innovative thinking and groups of professionals in Western Australia. In particular, the key ‘themes’ for me were on public engagement, preparing for an ‘automated’ world and what planners can do, and on human-centred design.

Engagement & YP Connect Session
Young Planners worked with ‘new school’ (Dr. Claire Boulange, Dr. Paula Hooper) and ‘old school’ (Anthony Duckworth-Smith) tools in order to design a suburb. This consisted of playful interactions as groups with hand-made ‘board-game’ style city model. Groups then combined these designs with metrics generated from a GIS platform which calculated yield / health benefits and other indicators. This was an engaging, iterative approach – bringing people together, generate understanding and move projects forward in an inclusive manner. The City of Perth’s 3D model and different tools that planners can use in communicating and streamlining the Development Assessment procedures was another innovative piece in this space.

Driverless future & riding an autonomous bus
Perth is one of the first cities globally to be testing Automated Vehicles in real-life traffic environments ; and are Australia’s very first. The RAC especially are emphasising that their main concern is people safely interacting with these vehicles – inside & out. Lessons learned from these trials will allow us to try and design their use while the technology remains largely under development. It was great to actually be within one of these vehicles rather than just experiencing talk about them!

Human-centred design & Copenhagenize Design Co.
Bringing the keynote speakers from Copenhagenize Design Co. was a big highlight. While talking to a group of planners about the benefits of cycling is preaching to the converted ; it was inspirational to see the change that this small group is able to make. In particular, many of the talks in the conference were touching on human-centred design and thinking ; and these guys are really an embodiment of that and the joy, and health it can bring cities.