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Über dieses Buch

This book provides an overview of the latest developments in the fast growing field of tangible user interfaces. It presents a new type of modeling environment where the users interact with geospatial data and simulations using 3D physical landscape model coupled with 3D rendering engine. Multiple users can modify the physical model, while it is being scanned, providing input for geospatial analysis and simulations. The results are then visualized by projecting images or animations back on the physical model while photorealistic renderings of human views are displayed on a computer screen or in a virtual reality headset. New techniques and software which couple the hardware set-up with open source GRASS GIS and Blender rendering engine, make the system instantly applicable to a wide range of applications in geoscience education, landscape design, computer games, stakeholder engagement, and many others.

This second edition introduces a new more powerful version of the tangible modeling environment with multiple types of interaction, including polymeric sand molding, placement of markers, and delineation of areas using colored felt patches. Chapters on coupling tangible interaction with 3D rendering engine and immersive virtual environment, and a case study integrating the tools presented throughout this book, demonstrate the second generation of the system - Immersive Tangible Landscape - that enhances the modeling and design process through interactive rendering of modeled landscape.

This book explains main components of Immersive Tangible Landscape System, and provides the basic workflows for running the applications. The fundamentals of the system are followed by series of example applications in geomorphometry, hydrology, coastal and fluvial flooding, fire spread, landscape and park design, solar energy, trail planning, and others.

Graduate and undergraduate students and educators in geospatial science, earth science, landscape architecture, computer graphics and games, natural resources and many others disciplines, will find this book useful as a reference or secondary textbook. Researchers who want to build and further develop the system will most likely be the core audience, but also anybody interested in geospatial modeling applications (hazard risk management, hydrology, solar energy, coastal and fluvial flooding, fire spread, landscape and park design) will want to purchase this book.



Chapter 1. Introduction

The complex, 3D form of the landscape—the morphology of the terrain, the structure of vegetation, and built form—is shaped by processes like anthropogenic development, erosion by wind and water, gravitational forces, fire, solar irradiation, or the spread of disease. In the spatial sciences GISGIS are used to computationally model, simulate, and analyze these processes and their impact on the landscape. Similarly in the design professions GISGIS and CADCAD programs are used to help study, re-envision, and reshape the built environment. These programs rely on GUIGUIs for visualizing and interacting with data. Understanding and manipulating 3D data using a GUI on a 2D display can be highly unintuitive, constraining how we think and act. Being able to interact more naturally with digital space enhances our spatial thinking, encouraging creativity, analytical exploration, and learning. This is critical for designers as they need to intuitively understand and manipulate information in iterative, experimental processes of creation. It is also important for spatial scientists as they need to observe spatial phenomena and then develop and test hypotheses. With tangible user interfaces (TUITUIs) like Tangible LandscapeTangible Landscape one can work intuitively by hand with all the benefits of computational modeling and analysis. This chapter discusses the evolution of tangible user interfaces and the development of Tangible LandscapeTangible Landscape. This chapter also describes the organization of this book.

Anna Petrasova, Brendan Harmon, Vaclav Petras, Payam Tabrizian, Helena Mitasova

Chapter 2. System Configuration

The setup of the Tangible Landscape system consists of four primary components: (a) a physical model that can be modified by a user, (b) a 3D scanner, (c) a projector, and (d) a computer installed with GRASS GIS for geospatial modeling and additional software that connects all the components together. The physical model, placed on a table, is scanned by the 3D scanner mounted above. The scan is then imported into GRASS GIS, where a DEM is created. The DEM is then used to compute selected geospatial analyses. The resulting image or animation is projected directly onto the modified physical model so that the results are put into the context of the modifications to the model.

Anna Petrasova, Brendan Harmon, Vaclav Petras, Payam Tabrizian, Helena Mitasova

Chapter 3. Building Physical 3D Models

Tangible Landscape works with many types of physical 3D models. When used to sculpt topography the physical model should be built of a malleable material such as sand or clay so that users can easily deform the surface. When used for object recognition the physical model can be built of a rigid material such as a wood product, foam, plastic, or resin. When both modes of interaction are combined the physical model should use malleable materials for the base and rigid materials for the objects. These models can be built by hand or digitally fabricated using 3D printing or computer numerically controlled (CNC) manufacturing. Tangible Landscape’s difference analytic can be used as an aid for hand-making models. The final model should be opaque, have a light color, and have a matte finish so that the projected image is crisp and vivid, since transparent materials such as acrylic cannot be 3D scanned. Some 3D printing and casting materials like resin may appear opaque, but have translucent properties—this will diffuse the projection. If we desire a very crisp and vivid image on a rigid model made of wood products or resins we recommend painting the model white. In this chapter we discuss different types of physical models and explain how to fabricate them.

Anna Petrasova, Brendan Harmon, Vaclav Petras, Payam Tabrizian, Helena Mitasova

Chapter 4. Tangible Interactions

Geospatial models require various types of spatial data inputs, often with different attributes and geometries (i.e. continuous surfaces, points, lines, or polygons). To enable a broad range of applications, while keeping interactions tangible and intuitive, we use tangible objects such as wooden markers, wooden blocks, colored sand, and colored felt to specify various types of geospatial inputs. Depending upon the application, markers can be interpreted as viewpoints or waypoints, while cutout felt shapes of different colors can represent land cover or species habitat. Combining color and with changes in surface creates additional possibilities for tangibly interacting with geospatial models. We provide examples of different tangible interactions and explain the change detection, image segmentation, and image classification algorithms behind these methods.

Anna Petrasova, Brendan Harmon, Vaclav Petras, Payam Tabrizian, Helena Mitasova

Chapter 5. Real-Time 3D Rendering and Immersion

People’s perception and experience of landscape plays a critical role in the social construction of these spaces—in how individuals and societies understand, value, and use landscapes. Perception and experience should, therefore, be an integral part of environmental modeling and geodesign. With the natural interaction afforded by Tangible Landscape and the realistic representations afforded by Immersive Virtual Environments (IVEs) experts and non-experts can collaboratively model landscapes and explore the environmental and experiential impacts of “what if” scenarios. We have paired GRASS GIS with Blender, a state-of-the-art 3D modeling and rendering program, to allow real-time 3D rendering and immersion. As users manipulate a tangible model with topography and objects, geospatial analyses and simulations are projected onto the tangible model and perspective views are realistically rendered on monitors and head-mounted displays (HMDs) in near real-time. Users can visualize in near real-time the changes they are making with either bird’s-eye views or perspective views from human vantage points. While geospatial data is typically visualized as maps, axonometric views, or bird’s-eye views, human-scale perspective views help us to understand how people would experience and perceive spaces within the landscape.

Anna Petrasova, Brendan Harmon, Vaclav Petras, Payam Tabrizian, Helena Mitasova

Chapter 6. Basic Landscape Analysis

Tangible Landscape allows us to explore the spatial patterns of topographic parameters and their relation to basic surface geometry. We can analyze the topography of a landscape model and how it changes by continually 3D scanning the model and computing DEMs from the scanned point clouds using binning or interpolation. By computing basic topographic parameters, morphometric units, and DEM differencing we can map changes in elevation, slope, and landform as the model is modified. These maps are then projected over the physical model of the landscape so that we have near real-time feedback and can understand the impact of our changes as we make them.

Anna Petrasova, Brendan Harmon, Vaclav Petras, Payam Tabrizian, Helena Mitasova

Chapter 7. Surface Water Flow Modeling

The topography of the Earth’s surface controls the flow of water and mass over the landscape. Modifications to the surface geometry of the land redirect water and mass flows influencing ecosystems, crop growth, the built environment, and many other phenomena dependent on water. We used Tangible Landscape to explore the relationship between overland flow patterns and landscape topography by manually changing the landscape model, while getting near real-time feedback about changing flow patterns. We coupled Tangible Landscape with a sophisticated dam breach model to investigate flood scenarios after a dam breach.

Anna Petrasova, Brendan Harmon, Vaclav Petras, Payam Tabrizian, Helena Mitasova

Chapter 8. Soil Erosion Modeling

Overland water flow can detach exposed soil and transport it over large distances, leading to soil loss and sediment deposition across landscape. Soil erosion can be effectively controlled by modifying topography to reduce concentrated overland flow or by planting vegetation to reduce soil detachment and transport. We used Tangible Landscape to analyze distribution of soil erosion and deposition potential in a small watershed and to design conservation measures by changing topography and planting vegetation in vulnerable locations. We iteratively adjusted and optimized our design based on real-time feedback from erosion and deposition maps projected over the modified 3D model. This feedback helped us to evaluate the effectiveness of our designs and develop better solutions.

Anna Petrasova, Brendan Harmon, Vaclav Petras, Payam Tabrizian, Helena Mitasova

Chapter 9. Viewshed Analysis

Viewshed (visibility) analysis is used in many different fields for both practical and aesthetic applications. It can play an important role when planning new buildings or roads especially in urban settings where obstructed views may raise safety concerns. In recreation areas views of beautiful landscapes are highly valued and protected with great passion. Visibility analysis is also crucial when planning location of monitoring cameras or communication towers in order to maximize coverage. With the increasing availability of high-resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) and digital surface models (DSMs) derived from lidar visibility analysis is becoming more accurate, broading the range of its applications. We used Tangible Landscape to analyze viewsheds on North Carolina State University’s (NCSU) Centennial Campus from different observer positions and explored how future development would affect the viewsheds. We introduced object recognition to collaboratively designate observer positions.

Anna Petrasova, Brendan Harmon, Vaclav Petras, Payam Tabrizian, Helena Mitasova

Chapter 10. Trail Planning

The design of a walking or hiking trail is based on fine scale topographic conditions and varied criteria specific to the particular context such as aesthetics, views, construction cost, and environmental sensitivity. As a result trail planning is typically a product of expert knowledge, field surveys, and creative design decisions—often made on site. However, when high resolution data is available geospatial modeling can be used to identify routes optimized for travel time and suitability. To design trails with Tangible Landscape we can hand place waypoints on a physical model and then the optimal network connecting the waypoints is computed in near real-time. This approach—hand placing tangible waypoints and computationally networking the waypoints—combines creative, collaborative decision making with mathematical optimization. In this chapter we explain the theory and methodology for designing trails with Tangible Landscape and then discuss a case study, the design of hiking trail scenarios for Lake Raleigh Woods, North Carolina.

Anna Petrasova, Brendan Harmon, Vaclav Petras, Payam Tabrizian, Helena Mitasova

Chapter 11. Solar Radiation Dynamics

Solar radiation (insolation) is the primary driving force for Earth’s atmospheric, biophysical, and hydrologic processes. Knowing the amount of radiation at different geographic locations at different times is therefore necessary in many fields including energy production, agriculture, meteorology, ecology, and urban planning. In this case study we model direct solar radiation and cast shadows in an urban setting to show how different spatial configurations of buildings change the amount of sunlight available throughout the day and the year.

Anna Petrasova, Brendan Harmon, Vaclav Petras, Payam Tabrizian, Helena Mitasova

Chapter 12. Wildfire Spread Simulation

Forest fires, whether naturally occurring or prescribed, are potential risks for ecosystems and human settlements. These risks can be managed by monitoring the weather, prescribing fires to limit available fuel, and creating firebreaks. With computer simulations we can predict and explore how fires may spread. We can explore scenarios and test different fire management strategies under different weather conditions. Using Tangible Landscape and the GRASS GIS wildfire toolset we simulated several wildfire scenarios. We tested different configurations of firebreaks on the physical model and evaluated their effectiveness.

Anna Petrasova, Brendan Harmon, Vaclav Petras, Payam Tabrizian, Helena Mitasova

Chapter 13. Coastal Modeling

In this chapter we discuss how to simulate inundation and flooding in coastal landscapes, explain workflows for developing storm surge and sea level rise scenarios, and present two case studies. The first case study explores storm surge and dune breach impacts for two populated barrier islands. One of these studies is designed as a simple educational game. The second is a design—informed by flood and erosion modeling—for resilient, sustainable guest housing at a coastal research institute.

Anna Petrasova, Brendan Harmon, Vaclav Petras, Payam Tabrizian, Helena Mitasova

Chapter 14. Landscape Design

In this chapter we demonstrate how tangible geospatial modeling can be coupled with virtual reality as a tangible immersive environment for landscape design. In a tangible immersive environment spatial scientists and landscape architects can rapidly, collaboratively design new landscapes balancing aesthetic and environmental factors. As a case study we use Tangible Landscape to create different scenarios for a park with landforms, hydrological systems, planting, a trail network, and a shelter. Real-time immersive visualizations rendered in Blender help us to judge the help us to judge the aesthetics of the park and refine our designs.

Anna Petrasova, Brendan Harmon, Vaclav Petras, Payam Tabrizian, Helena Mitasova


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