EP2022010A1 - Virtual display method and apparatus - Google Patents

Virtual display method and apparatus

Info

Publication number
EP2022010A1
EP2022010A1 EP07732683A EP07732683A EP2022010A1 EP 2022010 A1 EP2022010 A1 EP 2022010A1 EP 07732683 A EP07732683 A EP 07732683A EP 07732683 A EP07732683 A EP 07732683A EP 2022010 A1 EP2022010 A1 EP 2022010A1
Authority
EP
European Patent Office
Prior art keywords
virtual
image
panoramic
display
data set
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Withdrawn
Application number
EP07732683A
Other languages
German (de)
French (fr)
Inventor
Martin Woolner
Jeremy Innovate Faculty of Arts University of Plymouth DIGGLE
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Plymouth University
Original Assignee
Plymouth University
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority claimed from GB0608977A external-priority patent/GB2438012B/en
Priority claimed from GB0620837A external-priority patent/GB0620837D0/en
Application filed by Plymouth University filed Critical Plymouth University
Publication of EP2022010A1 publication Critical patent/EP2022010A1/en
Withdrawn legal-status Critical Current

Links

Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06TIMAGE DATA PROCESSING OR GENERATION, IN GENERAL
    • G06T15/003D [Three Dimensional] image rendering

Abstract

A method for providing a navigable virtual display, the comprises the steps of: providing a panoramic image of a space or location; preparing a navigable virtual panoramic image data set based upon the virtual image of the space; providing a multidimensional image of an object to be viewed; preparing a multidimensional image data set from the multidimensional image; and incorporating the multidimensional image data set into the virtual panoramic image data set to provide a virtual panoramic display image data set; wherein, when displayed, the virtual panoramic display image data set provides a navigable virtual panoramic display of the imaged object in an image of the space or location. A system is also provided for displaying the virtual panoramas. The method and system may be used to display images of interior or exterior locations. The method and system find particular use in the exhibiting of museum artifacts and art collections and as an aid in navigation.

Description

VIRTUAL DISPLAY METHOD AND APPARATUS
The present invention is concerned with the provision of a virtual panoramic display, in particular a navigable virtual panorama. In one embodiment, the invention is particularly, but not exclusively, applicable to the virtual display of artifacts in a collection of a museum or art gallery. Other embodiments of the invention relate to the provision of a virtual display for archeological and historical sites. Further embodiments of the invention are concerned with the provision of a virtual panoramic image of an exterior location, for example to assist with the navigation of a vehicle or vessel, such as a ship or the like.
Museums and art galleries by their nature are required to provide displays of objects, such as paintings, sculptures and other artifacts, for viewing by members of the public. However, in many cases, the range of objects and artifacts on display at any given time is a fraction of a much larger collection of objects and artifacts. Indeed, it is the case that many museums house vast collections of artifacts and objects that are of significant historical and scientific importance. However, due to the limited amount of room available, only a small fraction of such collections are ever displayed.
There is a growing demand for the public to be provided access to much larger portions of the collections of museums and galleries, for which there is no space available to provide adequate displays.
Accordingly, there is a need for a system for allowing museums and the like to provide displays of artifacts and objects to the general public, without necessitating a significant increase in the amount of display space that is to be used. Attempts have been made to generate and provide a virtual gallery. An example is the interactive display of the Museum of Fine Arts and Archeology in Roanne, France. However, these displays have been entirely computer generated and suffer from a lack of realism for the viewer.
DE 19956189 discloses a system and software for generating a display of a room or the like using 2D and 3D models of objects. The disclosure teaches that the images of objects may be moved within the two-dimensional space to determine the optimum layout. It does not appear that this system provides a virtual 3D panorama, through which a person may make a virtual tour to view objects.
FR 2847694 is concerned with a method for the interactive visualization of real spaces in three dimensions. The real space is represented by a combination of photographs of architectural features and materials. It would appear that the photographs of the architectural features and materials are 2D images. Images of objects are inserted into the composited real space image.
A system and method for hosting a virtual gallery is disclosed in US
2003/0097313. The system allows a user to select images from a range of gallery accounts, to enable the user to construct their own virtual gallery. Again, it appears that the representation of the gallery is a 2D image.
JP 2001-249633 discloses a method and system for advertising merchandise using a three-dimensional computer generated model. The method and system are particularly directed to the vendor of a house. It does not appear that the method and system allow a virtual panoramic display to be created with embedded 2D and 3D object images which is fully navigable by the user. JP 2001-342673 is concerned with a method and system for providing a virtual exhibition. The system includes provisions for a user to rent image data for objects to be exhibited, which are embedded in a virtual space, to be viewed by the user.
JP 2000-331189 discloses a method for constituting a virtual three- dimensional space and storing medium. The method generates a picture gallery template having a three-dimensional structure.
Finally, US 6,147,709 discloses a method and apparatus for inserting a high resolution image into a low resolution interactive image to produce a realistic immersive experience. In the method, an interactive image has a high resolution image embedded therein, such that when a user magnifies a part of the image on the screen, the higher resolution image data are viewed. This provides the user with a feeling of magnification and assists with the sensation of be present in the image being viewed.
Accordingly, there is a need for an improved system for providing a virtual panorama, for example a virtual gallery that provides the viewer with an experience that is as close as possible to the actual viewing of the display or exhibition in person. In addition, there is a need for providing navigable, virtual panoramic displays for a wider range of applications, allowing users to navigate virtual spaces and locations, as if in a three-dimensional environment.
In a first aspect, the present invention provides a method for providing a navigable virtual display, the method comprising the steps of: providing a panoramic image of a space or location; preparing a navigable virtual panoramic image data set based upon the virtual image of the space or location; providing a multidimensional image of an object to be viewed within the image of the space or location; preparing a multidimensional image data set from the multidimensional image; and incorporating the multidimensional image data set into the virtual panoramic image data set to provide a virtual panoramic display image data set; wherein, when displayed, the virtual panoramic display image data set provides a navigable virtual display of the imaged object within the image of the space or location.
In the present specification, a virtual three dimensional panoramic image is to be understood to be a two dimensional panoramic image displayed in a spherical, cylindrical or cuboid format to represent a three dimensional navigable virtual panoramic image.
The method of the present invention may be used to provide a wide range of navigable virtual panoramic displays, in which have been included or embedded two- or three-dimensional images of objects, such that the user may navigate around the object in the virtual realm.
The present invention is of particular use in providing a virtual exhibition in which the imaged display space is part or all of a museum, heritage centre or art gallery. The present invention provides, as a solution to the aforementioned problems, an enhanced virtual panoramic display of artifacts and objects, that is navigable by a user, to provide access to the significant number of objects that hitherto have not been freely available for public viewing. The present invention relies upon the imaging of both an actual display space, such as a gallery or museum room or hall, and the imaging of artifacts, in order to provide the virtual display. In this way, the viewer is provided with a virtual viewing experience that very closely matches the environment and objects in real life.
In an alternative embodiment, the invention employs a panoramic image of an exterior space or location. In one aspect, the method is used to provide a navigable virtual display of an exterior location for the purposes of navigation of a vehicle or vessel, such as a ship or the like. For example, the method may be used to provide a virtual display of a section of coastline or a port, allowing the crew of the ship to safely navigate the ship.
Other applications for the invention include the provision of virtual displays of archeological and historical sites, to allow visitors to obtain different virtual views of the site.
The method of the present invention provides a navigable virtual display, that is a virtual display that may be displayed on a suitable means, such as a screen, headset or monitor, and be altered and varied at the control of the viewer so as to give the impression of moving through or within the display space. A 2-dimensional display means is used to display or project an image representing a 3-dimensional space through which the viewer may be given the impression of moving.
In the first step of the method, a panoramic image of a space or a location is provided. The image may be of an interior space or location or an exterior space or location.
In one embodiment, the panoramic image of a display space is provided. A suitable space is imaged to provide a panoramic virtual image. The method preferably employs an existing display space, such as a room or gallery in a museum or the like. The use of an existing display space allows establishments, such as museums or galleries, to provide users of the system with a virtual image of the establishment itself. It is thus possible for an existing establishment to use its display space both in real terms, by way of a conventional display or exhibition, and in a virtual sense to provide a virtual display or exhibition. By this method, the use of the existing, limited display space may be increased many times.
Suitable techniques and systems for obtaining a panoramic image of an existing space or location, such as a gallery, exhibition hall or room, or exterior location, are known in the art. For example, a panoramic image may be obtained using a digital SLR camera, preferably mounted on a standard tripod.
The image of the space or location is used to prepare a navigable panoramic display image data set, which may be stored using conventional computer storage systems and means. This display image data set forms the basis for a virtual display and may be used a repeated number of times to provide a variety of displays without requiring further imaging of the space or location.
It has been found that, while such panoramic images are satisfactory for providing a navigable virtual panorama, they may be limited in the extent to which a user may freely navigate through the virtual space. Accordingly, in one preferred embodiment, the virtual panoramic image is created using computer aided design (CAD) techniques. Suitable CAD software and packages are commercially available and well known to the person skilled in the art. In this embodiment, CAD is used to create a raw panoramic image. This raw image is modified by importing two dimensional and three dimensional image data of the selected location or space, to provide the completed panoramic image. For example, one technique for improving or enhancing the panoramic image is by the texture mapping of two dimensional images onto three dimensional image data, to create a panoramic/immersive environment.
The two dimensional and three dimensional image data may be obtained using techniques well known and conventional in the art, such as digital photography. By importing image data of the actual location or space to be displayed, the final panoramic image is particularly real and life-like. However, the use of a raw image structure created using CAD techniques allows for a significantly higher degree of navigability through the virtual panorama.
In a further embodiment, the virtual panoramic image is provided as stereo panoramic images, such that each of two images is viewed by a respective eye of the user, with the images combining when so viewed to form a perceived three-dimensional image. Such stereo image techniques and the systems for producing and viewing them are known in the art and readily understood by the person skilled in the art.
The virtual panoramic image may be a still image. A suitable still image may be obtained, for example, using a digital SLR camera, preferably mounted on a standard tripod, as noted hereinbefore. Alternatively, the virtual panoramic image may be a moving image, in particular a video image. In such a case, the user is able to navigate through a moving panoramic image of the selected location or space. Suitable video imaging systems are known and commercially available.
It is preferable that the panoramic display contains one or more navigation aids, to assist the user when moving through the virtual panorama, either as part of the panoramic image or as an additional part of the display. Examples of suitable navigation aids include virtual signs that appear within the panoramic image. in a further step, the method of the present invention requires that multidimensional images of one or more objects are provided. In this respect, a multidimensional image is one that allows a viewer, when the image is displayed, to view the object from different positions. In other words, the image of the object is displayed in a manner to give the viewer the impression of being able to move around the object.
The multidimensional images are obtained by imaging the one or more objects to be displayed. In one embodiment of the present invention, the object is imaged to provide a 2-dimensional image, that is an image that presents the object in a single plane. The 2-dimensional image is particularly suitable for flat objects, that is objects typically viewed in a single plane. Particular examples are images of pictures, such as paintings, sketches, drawings, photographs and other similar works of art. In this way, a navigable virtual display may be created using the method of the present invention to display one or more paintings or the like. Such a virtual display may be used by an art gallery, for example, to display a large collection of works of art.
Suitable systems and methods for obtaining a 2-dimensional image of an object are known in the art and available commercially. For example, an image may be obtained using known digital photography. Other methods and systems for obtaining a 2-dimesional image include digital scanning, for example laser, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging. One or a combination of different imaging techniques may be employed to capture the 2-dimensional image data.
In one preferred embodiment, the virtual panoramic display image comprises virtual vertical display surfaces. These may be images of walls or screens or the like, such as used in conventional galleries to hang and exhibit pictures. The 2-dimensional image data sets are incorporated into the virtual panoramic image data set so as to appear on the virtual vertical display surfaces in the final panoramic display, such as images of walls, screens, partitions and the like. In this way, an exhibition of paintings and the like may be simulated.
In a further embodiment, the multidimensional images are 3-dimensional images of an object. This may be any object to be incorporated into the virtual display. Examples include objects of art and craft, such as sculptures or the like, as well as artifacts for display in a museum or similar exhibition, objects and artifacts for viewing in an archeological setting, or objects present in a landscape, such as vessels, buoys and the like in a virtual image of a portion of coastline or a harbour.
Suitable systems and methods for obtaining a 3-dimensional image of an object are known in the art and available commercially. Suitable methods and systems for obtaining a 3-dimesional image include digital non-contact laser optical scanning, Quick Time Virtual Reality (QTVR) object movies, pressure sensitive reverse engineering, robotic arm measurement, magnetic resonance and ultrasound imaging. One or a combination of imaging techniques may be employed to capture image data for incorporation into the virtual panoramic display image data set.
In one preferred embodiment, the virtual panoramic display image comprises virtual display locations. These may be images of stands or the like, such as used in conventional galleries and museums to exhibit objects and artifacts. Alternatively, the virtual display location may be an area of virtual floor space, on which an object may stand for exhibiting. The 3- dimensional image data sets are incorporated into the virtual panoramic image data set so as to appear in the virtual display locations in the final panoramic display. In this way, an exhibition of objects and artifacts and the like may be simulated.
The virtual panoramic display may combine both 2-dimensional images and 3-dimensional images. When 3-dimensional images are present, the virtual panoramic display preferably allows a viewer to navigate around all sides of the object. In a conventional display, a person viewing an object is limited to viewing points accessible from walking around the object. The virtual panoramic display of the present invention may be configured to allow the viewer a greater range of viewing points, for example the ability to view the object from above or below, views that would not normally be available in a conventional exhibition.
In one embodiment, in addition to or as an alternative to the user navigating around a 2- or 3-dimensional object within the virtual panoramic display, the objects may be viewed and navigated around in a separate display environment. This may be provided, for example, by providing the user with the option to select a particular or more detailed viewing of the object, which when selected opens a new view and/or screen in the display. This may allow the user to access such further or more detailed data only when desired, in turn improving the efficiency of the overall viewing and navigating through the panoramic display.
In conventional exhibitions, it is common practice to provide the viewer with additional information regarding the objects being viewed. In its simplest form, this is a plaque or the like giving such as the title and artist of a piece of artwork, as is typical for objects or pictures being displayed in a gallery. In museums, for example, more extensive information may be provided, typically in the form of written text. In the present invention, it is an advantage that the virtual panoramic display image data set may incorporate information relating to each object to be viewed. The information may be in the form of written text, images, an audio display, a video display or a combination of one or more of these. The method of the present invention allows a substantial amount of information to be associated with an object within the virtual display and to provide the viewer with the option of requesting or selectively viewing some or all of the information. In this respect, the virtual display of the present invention provides a significant advantage over conventional exhibitions or displays, where the amount of additional information that can be provided for a given object is generally limited.
In one preferred embodiment, the method of the present invention includes providing an interface with a database or other means for providing data to supplement or modify the virtual display. The database may be contained within the system housing and running the display. Alternatively, the database may be remote from the system and accessed, for example via a network connection, telephone, satellite link or the like.
In one embodiment, the database contains information, such as an existing catalogue of objects, whereby information relating to an object may be retrieved and displayed, for example at the viewer's request. In this way, the virtual panoramic image data set is not required to include information relating to the objects being displayed. Rather, this information may be imported into the virtual panoramic image data set only when required to be presented to the viewer.
In addition to the hereinbefore described method, the present invention also relates to a system for carrying out and implementing the method.
Accordingly, in a further aspect, the present invention provides a system for displaying a navigable virtual panoramic display, the system comprising: a means for storing a virtual panoramic display image data set; a means for displaying a virtual panoramic display based upon the virtual panoramic display image data set; an interface for communication with a remote database; and an interface for a user, the interface including a means to allow the user to navigate within the virtual panoramic display.
In a further aspect, the present invention provides a system for displaying a navigable virtual panoramic display, the system comprising: a means for storing a virtual panoramic display image data set as prepared in any preceding claim; a means for displaying a virtual panoramic display based upon the virtual panoramic display image data set; and an interface for a user, the interface including a means to allow the user to navigate within the virtual panoramic display.
The virtual panoramic display image data set may have any of the features as hereinbefore described and the system of the present invention may be configured to provide these features in the panoramic display.
The means for storing the virtual panoramic display image data may comprise any suitable data storage means, such as RAM or ROM. The data stored on the storage device is retrieved and used to provide a virtual panoramic display on the display means. In one embodiment, the virtual panoramic display image data set is stored on a server hard drive, for display as a web-based presentation accessible through terminals on a computer network.
The display means may be any suitable display means and such devices are commercially available. The system may be a dedicated system for the storage and display of the virtual panorama. Alternatively, the system may comprise a device, such as personal computer, podcast, personal digital assistant (PDA) or telephone, configured to store, retrieve and provide the requisite display.
The system of the present invention comprises an interface with which the viewer may navigate through the virtual panoramic display. In its simplest form, the interface may comprise a simple keyboard and/or joystick, navigation keys on a telephone or a stylus used with a PDA or telephone. Such control interfaces are well known and commonly applied in the art, for example in the computer gaming industry. In a preferred embodiment, the interface allows the viewer to selectively access and display information associated with an object being viewed. As noted above, the information may be in the form of text, still or moving images, video, an audio display or a combination of one or more of these. In such a case, the interface allows the viewer to control the display of the information.
Further, the system may comprise an interface with a remote database, such as a catalogue or the like, containing information relating to the objects being displayed in the virtual display. This interface is operable to import data from the remote database as required, in order to supplement the display. The interface may be operable under the control of the viewer. Alternatively, the system may be operable to automatically retrieve certain data relating to an object, when the object is being viewed in the virtual display. Alternatively, or in addition thereto, the automatic data retrieval may be triggered by movement of the user, for example when physically moving or traveling through a particular location, in which case the virtual panoramic display is modified according to the physical position of the user. Such automatic data retrieval may be triggered by positional data received via an interface with a GPS. An example of such automatic retrieval is data containing the date and origin of an object. The system may provide the viewer with the option of retrieving further information, if desired. This option may be presented to the viewer by way of a menu or the like. The automatic data retrieval may be controlled, for example, by the display. In one embodiment, the retrieval of data relating to a particular object is triggered by the object coming into view, as the viewer navigates through the display.
Techniques and software suitable for generating the virtual panoramic display image data set and operating the virtual display are known in the art. One preferred system for generating the virtual panoramic display image data set is the SPi-V panoramic viewer, a commercially available software package available from FieldOfView, The Netherlands. The SPi-V system operates from XML configuration files and is used to embed images into the virtual panoramic image data set to create the virtual panoramic display image data set. An advantage of the SPi-V system is that individual image files may be embedded and there is no need to form a single composited image file for combination with the panoramic image data.
Suitable software tools for the development of the user interface are also known in the art and available commercially. One example of a preferred system is the Revolution system, commercially available from Runtime Revolution Ltd. This system is employed to create the user interface, in particular the configuration files that are operated with SPi-V panoramas, for example, to provide the virtual display. Other systems will be known to the person skilled in the art.
As noted above, the system of the present invention may include provisions for displaying additional information associated with objects within the virtual display, at the request of the viewer. The Revolution system may be used to construct the appropriate interface for the selective retrieval and display of the information.
As an example, the interface may be in the form of a dedicated web browser. Clicking on an object within the virtual display or an associated icon generates a new page of options for the viewer, including links to additional information. The web browser may use any appropriate 'plug-in' technology to display information in different media forms, including interactive 3D models, zoomable still images, video and audio displays. The web browser may be configured to retrieve information from a local source or from a remote source via a network connection. Information may be displayed from the remote source or may be downloaded to the viewer's local device.
In addition, Revolution may be employed to create the authoring applications or tools, which may be used to interact with the SPi-V system to provide improved user friendliness. In particular, such applications or tools may provide a regular graphical interface for the user to create the virtual panoramic display image data set using the SPi-V system. For example, the applications or tools may provide the user with a fold-out plan of each room or region of the display space, created from the panoramic image of the display space provided. In addition, the user may be provided with a set of thumbnail images of the objects to be incorporated into the virtual display. The arrangement of the objects within the virtual display may be created by simply 'dragging' the thumbnail images into place. The application or tool will then create the appropriate XML file for placing the appropriate image data within the virtual panoramic display image data set.
The raw panoramic and object image data may be manipulated and managed prior to inclusion in the virtual panoramic display image data set using known techniques and systems. In particular, the raw images may be managed and converted using such commercially available software systems as Aperture, iView, Media Pro, Capture One, Portfolio and Photoshop. The manipulation, colour balancing and design of the images is preferably carried out using Photoshop, commercially available from Adobe Systems Incorporated. The alignment and remaping of images (referred to as 'stitching') may be achieved using PTMac, PTGui, Realviz Stitcher, Hugin and PTAssembler, all of which are commercially available.
In a further aspect, the present invention provides a virtual panoramic display image data set as hereinbefore described and a computer program comprising or incorporating the same. The present invention also provides a computer readable carrier having stored thereon a virtual panoramic display image data set prepared according to the method hereinbefore described.
As noted above, the method and system of the present invention may be used to produce a navigable virtual panoramic display of a wide range of locations and for a wide range of applications. In many of these applications, it is necessary to have the ability to modify the virtual panoramic display. For this to happen, one aspect of the present invention provides for a connection to a remote database to retrieve data, the data being used to modify the virtual panoramic display.
Accordingly, in a further aspect, there is provided a method of providing a navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic display, the method comprising: providing a navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic image; providing an interface with a remote database, whereby data may be retrieved from the remote database; accessing the remote database to retrieve data; and modifying the navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic image according to the retrieved data.
The virtual three dimensional panoramic display may comprise image data relating to one or more objects to be viewed within the display, as described hereinbefore.
In a still further aspect, the present invention provides a system for providing a navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic display, the system comprising: means for displaying a navigable virtual panoramic image; an interface for communicating with a remote database; means for processing data retrieved from the remote database to modify the virtual panoramic image to provide the navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic display.
The method and system of these aspects of the present invention require an interface with a remote database for the retrieval of data. Databases of data are known and in existence. For example, museums frequently have databases holding electronic records of exhibits and artifacts, for example artifacts that have been stored or archived. Suitable interfaces for communication with such databases are known or can be created using techniques known and readily available to the person skilled in the art.
Data are retrieved via the interface from the remote database and used to modify the navigable virtual panoramic image to provide the completed navigable virtual display. The remote data may relate to one or more portions of the navigable virtual panoramic image. For example, the image may contain one or more objects, such as artifacts on display in a virtual museum, objects, ruins or buildings at an archeological site, or features within the virtual image of a port or harbour. Data relating to one or more of these objects or features may be requested by the user and retrieved from the remote database via the interface. These data are then used to modify the virtual image, for example by changing the existing image or by adding one or more additional displays. Additional displays may contain further and more detailed information relating to the object or feature selected, or the like.
In particular, data retrieved from the remote database may be presented to the viewer as part of the virtual display, for example in the form of floating graphics, including text and/or image boxes that are displayed as part of, alongside or over the panoramic display. The data may be retrieved, for example, as streaming data, video data and the like, for example, emergency information, the time and streaming radio and voiceovers.
Data and information retrieved from the remote database may be linked with a particular object within the virtual display. For example, data may be retrieved to provide further information to the user regarding a particular object in a virtual exhibition, such as text, high resolution images, video and/or sound data. Alternatively, the data retrieved from the remote database may not be linked to a particular object or item in the virtual display. For example, data may be retrieved to provide background sounds and noises to enhance the experience of the user. Such sound may be directional, in that it becomes louder as the user navigates within the virtual display. For example, the sound may become louder as the user turns to face the source of the sound in the virtual display. Other examples of more general information retrieved from the remote database include directional information, to enable the user to navigate within the virtual display more accurately.
If the virtual panoramic display contains navigation aids for the user, such as virtual signs within the panoramic image, these may be modified in accordance with data retrieved from the remote database, for example where such data provide the user with additional options for moving through the panorama. An example is the retrieval from the remote database of an entire virtual exhibition with its own exhibition rooms and halls, which, once retrieved, provide the user with the option of entering and viewing the virtual exhibition.
The retrieval of data from a remote database may be via a network, such as a local area network (LAN) or another network, such as the internet or world wide web. As an example, the interface may be in the form of a dedicated web browser. Clicking on an object or other feature within the virtual display or an associated icon generates a new page of options for the viewer, including links to additional information. The web browser may use any appropriate 'plug-in' technology to display information in different media forms, including interactive 3D models, zoomable still images, video and audio displays. The web browser may be configured to retrieve information from a local source and/or from a remote source via a network connection. Information may be displayed from the remote source or may be downloaded to the viewer's local device.
Alternatively, the interface may communicate with a remote database by other suitable means, including hard wire connections, radio links and other wireless communication systems, in particular mobile telephone networks, infrared and the like. An example of a suitable communication means is Bluetooth for short range communication, particularly in conjunction with GPS equipment or for live updates when in close proximity to an object/ artifact. This is particular advantageous when the user is using a mobile display and is physically moving within a location while viewing the virtual display. In one preferred embodiment of the present invention, the system is in communication with a global positioning system (GPS). This allows data regarding the position of the user to be retrieved. In such a case, a portable system, such as a hand held display device, may be carried by the user and the virtual panoramic display changed or modified according to the location retrieved from the GPS. The positional data may be used to retrieve image or other data from a database stored locally on the device or in the system. Alternatively, the positional data retrieved from the GPS may used to interrogate a remote database to retrieve data relevant to that location. Data may be retrieved according to the position and/or direction of motion of the user and/or the system.
For example, a system of the present invention employed as a navigational aid in a ship or other vessel or craft may receive positional data from the GPS, which in turn is used by the system to generate a navigable virtual panoramic display appropriate to the location and/or heading of the ship.
Accordingly, in a further aspect, the present invention provides a method of providing a navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic display, the method comprising: providing a navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic image; receiving data from a global positioning system (GPS); and modifying the navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic image according to the received data.
A system according to a further aspect of the present invention comprises: means for displaying a navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic image; means for receiving data from a global positioning system (GPS); and means for modifying the navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic image according to the received data. As has been noted, the present invention, in one embodiment, is particularly suited to and advantageously applied in the creation of virtual displays or exhibitions of museum artifacts. Accordingly, the present invention provides, in one embodiment a method of exhibiting museum artifacts, the method comprising the steps of: obtaining a panoramic image of an exhibition space; preparing a navigable virtual panoramic image data set based upon the virtual image of the space; obtaining a multidimensional image of an artifact to be exhibited; preparing a multidimensional image data set from the multidimensional image; and incorporating the multidimensional image data set into the virtual panoramic image data set to provide a virtual panoramic display image data set; wherein, when displayed, the virtual panoramic display image data set provides a navigable virtual panoramic display of the artifact.
The exhibition space that is imaged to form the virtual exhibition is preferably, but not necessarily, a location, such as a room or gallery, within the museum in which the collection of artifacts is housed. In this way, a given museum may offer visitors one or more virtual exhibitions relating specifically to the museum building.
Embodiments of the present invention have been described with reference to the exhibiting of museum artifacts and works of art in a gallery or the like. It is to be understood that the aspects of the present invention may be applied to providing a virtual navigable panorama incorporating a wide range of object images. For example, the system and method may be used to provide a navigable, virtual panoramic display of such locations as retail and wholesale environments, warehouse locations, as well as the various exterior locations mentioned hereinbefore.
In a further aspect, the present invention provides a virtual panoramic display image data set as hereinbefore described and a computer program comprising or incorporating the same. The present invention also provides a computer readable carrier having stored thereon a virtual panoramic display image data set prepared according to the method hereinbefore described.
Embodiments of the present invention will now be described, by way of example only, having reference to the accompanying figures, in which:
Figure 1 is a diagrammatic representation of a general method of creating a navigable virtual panoramic display according to one embodiment of the present invention;
Figure 2 is a diagrammatic representation of a method of creating a navigable, virtual panoramic image data set for use in the general method of Figure 1;
Figure 3a is a diagrammatic representation of aspects of the main layout application of Figure 1 relating to construction of the navigable virtual display;
Figure 3b is a diagrammatic representation of aspects of the main layout application of Figure 1 relating to the preview and exporting of data from the main layout application, following completion of the aspects of Figure 3a;
Figure 4a is a representation of the first stage in the preparation of the navigable, virtual panoramic display of museum exhibits of Example 1; and Figure 4b is a representation of the second stage in the preparation of the navigable, virtual panoramic display of museum exhibits of Example 1.
Referring to Figure 1 , there is shown a general scheme for preparing a navigable, virtual panoramic display according to one embodiment of the present invention. The general method relies upon data from three sources. First, the method receives as input data from the creation of a navigable virtual panorama data set 10. This data set is indicated in Figure 1 as being an XML data set. However, it is to be understood that other systems for passing information in a structured manner may be employed, as will be known to the person skilled in the art. The creation of the virtual panoramic data set 10 is shown in more detail in Figure 2 and described below.
Further, a data set 20 is prepared from a combination of data generated by the scanning and imaging of objects for inclusion in the virtual display and data obtained from a content management system (CMS) or other database. Such other database may be, for example, an electronic library of information relating to objects to be viewed and shown in the virtual display. A suitable interface or 'bridge' 30 is employed to link with the existing content management system or database. Again, the data set 20 is indicated in Figure 1 to be in XML format. However, as noted above, other formats may be employed.
Data from the virtual panoramic data set 10 and the data set 20 are combined with a main layout application 40, in which the virtual panoramic display is constructed, in particular to include one or more imaged objects into the panorama, so as to provide a navigable display. The main layout application 40 is shown in more detail in Figures 3a and 3b. Finally, the completed display data are provided to a user, for example by means of a viewer application 50. Again, the XML format indicated is just one example of a suitable format for the data set.
Referring to Figure 2, there is shown an example of a method for preparing the panoramic image data set 10. As shown, the method includes both the imaging and measurement of a room. The room is used as just one example of a space or location that can be imaged and processed. The location may be an interior or exterior location, as required. The image data obtained from photographing the room are stitched to form a panorama 60, using known techniques. Images 70 of the walls of the room are extracted from the stitched panorama. Measurement data are used to modify the extraction of the wall images 70, as required. The wall images are combined and processed to prepare the panoramic image data set 10.
Referring to Figure 3a, details of the main layout application 40 are shown. In the construction of the virtual display, a selection of the display space to be employed is made from the panoramic image data set 10. A selection of objects and other data to be included in the display is also made from the data set 20. The display or exhibition is arranged, for example using known 'drag and drop' routines. Once completed, the compiled display data set is processed for exporting to the end using facility, as shown in Figure 3b. The export processing includes options of creating zoomable images within the display. This may be achieved using known systems, such as Zoomify. The specific formats and systems indicated in Figure 3b, such as XML, Spi-V, etc. are just examples of suitable formats and media that may be used.
The following examples illustrate the application of the present invention. Example 1 Virtual Museum Exhibition
A navigable virtual panoramic image of a museum hall is provided, through which a viewer may appear to navigate. The virtual image comprises a plurality of 3-dimensional object images, each of may be navigated around by the viewer and viewed from different virtual vantage points.
The viewer may activate a data retrieval command with respect to each object being viewed. For example, an object may be provided with a hyperlink to active the data retrieval from the remote database. Upon activation, data relating to the object are retrieved from the central museum database via the remote database interface. The data retrieved are used to modify the display and/or are displayed in the form of text, still or moving images on a new screen, to provide the viewer with further information regarding the selected object. The modified or additional display may provide the viewer with further options to activate further data retrieval, such as providing a menu of links available.
As an example of the above general method, a virtual museum display was prepared as follows, having reference to Figures 4a and 4b.
Data was retrieved from a content management system (CMS) 100. The CMS contained image data of three-dimensional objects, such as sculptures 110, text data relating to objects 120, video data 130, two dimensional image data of paintings 140, and sound data 150. A room within a museum was imaged to provide a panoramic image data set. From this data set, images 160 of the walls of the room were extracted. The data retrieved from the CMS 100 was arranged within the extracted wall images 160, to provide a floor plan 170 of the display. Referring to Figure 4b, the floor plan 170 was combined with a panoramic image 180 of the room, to provide a navigable, virtual panoramic exhibition 200. As shown in Figure 4b, the virtual exhibition accurately reproduced a real exhibition, in particular allowing the user to navigate through the room and around objects, such as sculptures and artifacts. The virtual exhibition contained links for the user to access further information, indicated as T in the display. The links enabled the user to retrieve information in the form of videos, text, high resolution images and the like. The links when activated, introduced further data or information into the existing display, for example a high resolution image to allow the user to zoom into and enlarge a particular artifact, or played an audio data file. Alternatively, the links replaced the exhibition display with an alternative display, such as a screen to show a video clip or film of relevance to the exhibition.
It was found that the virtual exhibition prepared in this manner provided the user with a most realistic experience of attending and viewing an exhibition. Further, the experience of attending an actual or real exhibition was enhanced by the additional information that was available through the links, which is not readily provided to a person when in an actual exhibition room. For the person providing the virtual exhibition, the present invention allowed an exhibition to prepared with ease from an existing database of information, in particular allowing a user to view objects and artifacts that could not generally be placed on display, for example for reasons of lack of space or non-availability.
Example 2 Virtual Archeological Reconstruction
A user is provided with a hand held or portable display system at a site of archeological interest. The system has an interface connection to a remote database. Movement through the site provides the user with a range of different virtual panoramas displayed on the device according to location. The user may select from one or more options to modify the displayed image, for example to view virtual objects, or to navigate around an image of the site representative of a particular time in history. Data relating to the virtual objects or historical image are retrieved from the remote database either by command from the user or automatically.
,
Example 3 Virtual Navigation System
A ship is provided with a system for displaying navigable virtual panoramic images of coastal locations. The image is provided and modified according to data received from a GPS regarding the position and heading of the ship. The system has an interface for retrieving data from a remote database, such as a port authority or coastguard, to provide a navigable virtual panoramic display of the coastal location at the present time. In this way, a ship may anticipate the presence of existing obstacles, such as newly arrived ships or other hazards, when maneuvering. The system is particularly useful for navigation in conditions of poor visibility or at night.
Example 4 Retail Stores
A user is provided with an enhanced system for remote shopping using an on-line shopping procedure. The system provides a navigable virtual panoramic display of the interior of an actual shop or store. The virtual display allows the user to navigate the interior of the shop as they would when shopping in person. The virtual display is modified, for example to display special offers or indicate products that are out of stock (for example by showing empty shelves or the like). The virtual display is linked to a remote database, located for example at the store or at a central location. Images of products and goods can be retrieved from the remote database, for example to allow the user to inspect an item or navigate around the item, in order to obtain a better view, prior to making a purchase. The database is managed, to reflect changes in products, stock, advise of changes in promotional events or products, and the like.
The system may be provided as a handheld or portable device at the store location. In this way, a user may use the system as an aid to navigating a large store.

Claims

1. A method for providing a navigable virtual display, the method comprising the steps of: providing a panoramic image of a space or location; preparing a navigable virtual panoramic image data set based upon the virtual image of the space or location; providing a multidimensional image of an object to be viewed; preparing a multidimensional image data set from the multidimensional image; and incorporating the multidimensional image data set into the virtual panoramic image data set to provide a virtual panoramic display image data set; wherein, when displayed, the virtual panoramic display image data set provides a navigable virtual panoramic display of the imaged object within the image of the space or location.
2. The method according to claim 1 , wherein the panoramic image is of an interior or an exterior location.
3. The method according to claim 2, wherein the space is within a museum or art gallery, a retail location, or a wholesale location.
4. The method according to claim 2, wherein the space is a geographical location for use for navigation purposes, a coastal location, a port or harbour, or a landscape.
5. The method according to any preceding claim, wherein the multidimensional image is a 2-dimensional image of the object.
6. The method according to claim 5, wherein the object is a picture.
7. The method according to either of claims 5 or 6, wherein the virtual panoramic display image comprises virtual vertical display surfaces, the 2- dimensional images being incorporated into the virtual panoramic display image so as to appear on the virtual vertical display surfaces.
8. The method according to any of claims 1 to 4, wherein the multidimensional image is a 3-dimensional image of an object.
9. The method according to claim 8, wherein the object is a sculpture or artifact for display in a museum, heritage centre or art gallery.
10. The method according to either of claims 8 or 9, wherein the virtual panoramic display image comprises a virtual display location, the 3- dimensional images being incorporated into the virtual panoramic display image so as to appear in the virtual display location.
11. The method according to claim 8, wherein the multidimensional image is of a vessel.
12. The method according to any preceding claim, wherein multidimensional image is a 3-dimensional image of an object and the virtual panoramic display image is navigable to allow a user to view around all sides of the 3-dimensional image.
13. The method according to any preceding claim, further comprising the step of incorporating into the virtual panoramic display image data set information relating to each object to be viewed, the information being in a form such that it can be displayed in the virtual panoramic display image.
14. The method according to claim 13, wherein the information relating to each object may be retrieved from the virtual panoramic display image data set by the user upon request.
15. The method according to any preceding claim, further comprising providing an interface to a remote database, whereby data relating to an object on display may be retrieved from the remote database.
16. The method according to claim 15, wherein the retrieval of data is automatic and determined by the virtual display.
17. The method according to any preceding claim, wherein the virtual three dimensional panoramic image is constructed using CAD techniques.
18. The method according to claim 17, wherein the three dimensional panoramic image comprises images of the location.
19. The method according to any preceding claim, wherein the virtual panoramic display image is provided as stereo panoramic images.
20. The method according to any preceding claim, wherein the virtual panoramic display image is a still image.
21. The method according to any of claims 1 to 19, wherein the virtual panoramic display image comprises video images.
22. A system for displaying a navigable virtual panoramic display, the system comprising: a means for storing a virtual panoramic display image data set as prepared in any preceding claim; a means for displaying a virtual panoramic display based upon the virtual panoramic display image data set; and an interface for a user, the interface including a means to allow the user to navigate within the virtual panoramic display.
23. The system according to claim 22, wherein the panoramic virtual image is of an interior or an exterior space or location.
24. The system according to claim 23, wherein the space is of a museum, heritage centre or art gallery.
25. The system according to claim 23, wherein the location is a geographical location for use for navigation purposes, a landscape, port or harbour, or region of coastline.
26. The system according to any of claims 22 to 25, wherein the multidimensional images include 2-dimensional images of objects.
27. The system according to claim 26, wherein the objects are pictures.
28. The system according to either of claims 26 or 27, wherein the virtual panoramic display image comprises virtual vertical display surfaces, the 2- dimensional images being incorporated into the virtual panoramic display image so as to appear on the virtual vertical display surfaces.
29. The system according to any of claims 22 to 25, wherein the multidimensional images include 3-dimensional images of objects.
30. The system according to claim 29, wherein the objects are sculptures or artifacts for display in a museum.
31. The system according to either of claims 29 or 30, wherein the virtual panoramic display image comprises virtual display locations, the 3- dimensional images being incorporated into the virtual panoramic display image so as to appear in the virtual display location.
32. The system according to claim 31, wherein the virtual panoramic display image is navigable to allow a user to view around all sides of the 3- dimensional image.
33. The system according to any of claims 22 to 32, wherein the virtual panoramic display image data set incorporates data relating to each object to be viewed.
34. The system according to claim 33, wherein the interface further comprises means to allow the user to selectively retrieve data relating to each object from the virtual panoramic display image data set by the user upon request.
35. The system according to any of claims 32 to 34, further comprising an interface with a remote database, whereby data may be retrieved from the remote database for display.
36. The system according to any of claims 22 to 35, wherein the means for storing a virtual panoramic display image data set is a hard drive in a server of a computer network, the interface being associated with a terminal in the network.
37. A computer readable carrier having stored thereon a virtual panoramic display image data set prepared according to the method of any of claims 1 to 21.
38. A method of providing a navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic display of a location, the method comprising: providing a navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic image; providing an interface with a remote database, whereby data may be retrieved from the remote database; accessing the remote database to retrieve data; and modifying the navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic image according to the retrieved data.
39. The method according to claim 38, wherein the panoramic image is of an existing display space.
40. The method according to claim 39, wherein the display space is within a museum or art gallery.
41. The method according to claim 38, wherein the panoramic image is of an exterior location.
42. The method according to claim 41 , wherein the panoramic image of a geographical location for use for navigation purposes.
43. The method according to any of claims 38 to 42, wherein the virtual three dimensional panoramic image consists of images of the location.
44. The method according to any of claims 38 to 43, wherein the virtual three dimensional panoramic image is constructed using CAD techniques.
45. The method according to claim 44, wherein the three dimensional panoramic image comprises images of the location.
46. The method according to any of claims 38 to 45, wherein the virtual panoramic display image is provided as stereo panoramic images.
47. The method according to any of claims 38 to 46, wherein the virtual panoramic display image is a still image.
48. The method according to any of claims 38 to 47, wherein the virtual panoramic display image comprises video images.
49. The method according to any of claims 38 to 48, wherein the interface communicates with the remote database via a network.
50. The method according to any of claims 38 to 49, wherein the interface communicates with the remote database via a mobile telephone network.
51. The method according to any of claims 38 to 50, further comprising an interface with a global position system (GPS) to receive positional data.
52. The method according to claim 51 , wherein the display is modified according to positional data received from the GPS.
53. A method of providing a navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic display, the method comprising: providing a navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic image; receiving data from a global positioning system (GPS); and modifying the navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic image according to the received data.
54. A system for providing a navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic display, the system comprising: means for displaying a navigable virtual panoramic image; an interface for communicating with a remote database; means for processing data retrieved from the remote database to modify the virtual panoramic image to provide the navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic display.
55. The system according to claim 54, wherein the interface communicates with the remote database via a network.
56. The system according to claim 54 or 55, wherein the interface communicates with the remote database via a mobile telephone network.
57. The system according to any of claims 54 to 56, further comprising an interface with a global position system (GPS) to receive positional data.
58. The system according to claim 57, means for modifying the panoramic image according to positional data received from the GPS.
59. A system for providing a navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic display, the system comprising: means for displaying a navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic image; means for receiving data from a global positioning system (GPS); and means for modifying the navigable virtual three dimensional panoramic image according to the received data.
60. A method of exhibiting museum artifacts, the method comprising the steps of: obtaining a panoramic image of an exhibition space; preparing a navigable virtual panoramic image data set based upon the virtual image of the space; obtaining a multidimensional image of an artifact to be exhibited; preparing a multidimensional image data set from the multidimensional image; and incorporating the multidimensional image data set into the virtual panoramic image data set to provide a virtual panoramic display image data set; wherein, when displayed, the virtual panoramic display image data set provides a navigable virtual panoramic display of the artifact.
61. The method of claim 60, wherein the exhibition space is a location within the museum.
62. A computer readable carrier having stored thereon a virtual panoramic display image data set prepared according to the method of any of claims 38 to 53.
EP07732683A 2006-05-08 2007-05-04 Virtual display method and apparatus Withdrawn EP2022010A1 (en)

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GB0608977A GB2438012B (en) 2006-05-08 2006-05-08 Virtual Display Method And Apparatus
GB0620837A GB0620837D0 (en) 2006-10-20 2006-10-20 Virtual display method and apparatus
PCT/GB2007/001654 WO2007129065A1 (en) 2006-05-08 2007-05-04 Virtual display method and apparatus

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