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Development and Implementation of Geofoveation (GeoF)

English title Development and Implementation of Geofoveation (GeoF)
Applicant Çöltekin Arzu
Number 120434
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Geographisches Institut Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Information Technology
Start/End 01.01.2009 - 31.12.2010
Approved amount 95'475.00
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All Disciplines (4)

Information Technology
Other disciplines of Earth Sciences
Education and learning sciences, subject-specific education

Keywords (7)

Geovisualization displays; 3D visualization; Human-computer interaction; Foveation; Area of Interest Management; area of; interest management

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
This project aims at developing novel concepts, models and methods inspired by human visual system (HVS) and at implementing these in visualization of geographic data. When HVS's limitations are taken into consideration, it becomes evident that a great amount of detail is not perceived by humans for a variety of psycho-physiological reasons. Current computational geovisualization processes rely on well-established algorithms to remove redundant or irrelevant information to overcome hardware and/or bandwidth limitations, and much research has been done in this area. However, the biological limitations of HVS are not exploited or integrated into geovisualization displays. To understand the potential of HVS-inspired approaches, we start by looking into biological and optical foundations of fovea and the lens system, as well as stereoscopic vision. In doing this we start our work with a concept called foveation. Foveation is a computer vision method that produces a non-uniform display, typically by degrading the resolution on peripheral regions where human visual acuity is compromised by nature. These displays typically depend on having a modality (e.g., an eye tracking device, or a user-input location) to determine viewers' gaze point (point of interest (POI)) in the scene. They are often termed as gaze contingent displays (GCDs). Within the initial stages of the project a concept called geofoveation is being developed, exploring the potential of foveation in geovisualization domain (GeoF). Within GeoF, a generic model of foveation is explored for all kinds of geographic data displays. We further expand our approach by combining foveation with depth of field (DoF) simulation in a three-dimensional (3D) space for stereoscopic 3D geo-visualizations, because in this particular area data can be especially large. Within this project, we develop an extended and improved mathematical model of foveation for stereoscopic geo-GCDs based on previous research. Following this stage, a test bed will be implemented which takes both raster and vector geographic data formats as input, processes them to create gaze-dependent foveated visualizations on mono- and stereoscopic displays (GeoF II). To validate our approach, testing and comparison of the new algorithms and existing approaches will follow the implementation of the test bed. In summary, within (GeoF and) GeoF II, we focus on finding ways to better manage large geographic information visualizations, especially for low-bandwidth scenarios.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
132805 Development and Implementation of Geofoveation (GeoF II) 01.01.2011 Project funding
149670 Vision to visualization: Improving computational and human performance with highly realistic three-dimensional geographic visualizations by means of biomimicry (VISDOM) 01.09.2014 Project funding


We request funding for two PhD students during three years to work on developing a visualization method of geospatial data displays (geofoveation) and empirically testing the viewer response to foveated displays. While the approach will be generic to geovisualization, the particular focus will be on three dimensional (3D) stereoscopic displays.Geospatial datasets, e.g. maps, terrain and city models, are essentially large and they require intelligent data management techniques. The increased popularity of network based services for way finding -both on the Internet and on the mobile devices- calls for further attention to this need to manage the limited bandwidth. We are continuously forced to think of better ways to manage large datasets. Managing computational resources, that is, saving processing power by rendering what is perceptually relevant (and therefore, also coping with bandwidth limitations better) for geovisualization displays is one of the two major motivating points for this proposal. While a number of advanced computer graphics methods deal with complex scene management, such as view frustum/visibility culling, view-dependent rendering, mesh simplification, level of detail management and foveation, there is room for improvement for better perceptual models with a focus on stereoscopic 3D and geospatial datasets. The second major motivating factor of this project is to find out a number of human factors involved in foveating a scene. While foveation is an established technology, in particular peripheral resolution degradation as a compression method, there is little empirical work to document what happens when we place the foveated scenes in front of people. Other researchers have studied whether viewers notice the compression in the periphery or not further tests are essential to test the implied cognitive benefits, especially in 3D as simulating depth of field may have significant benefits to health problems associated with 3D viewing experience.We are motivated by earlier research and literature to propose that geofoveation would be an effective data management system for handling computational resources for geovisualization and that it would be cognitively superior to its alternatives. While these are highly educated guesses, we need to test them and see if they are as promising as they sound. In this investigation, the research will be formed around the following objectives:- Finding out the particular issues regarding the current geovisualization data management techniques and framing these into a set of criteria to develop a 3D geofoveation model, followed by a method. This would be possible by improving the previously published stereo-foveation model of the principle investigator. The research question would be “How can we best adapt the current foveation research into 3D geovisualization?”. - Finding out what are the human factors involved in foveated displays, and measuring the user response to test the cognitive adequacy of the method. More specifically, we would focus on validating whether or not the stereo foveated displays provide additional viewing comfort in people who suffer from virtual simulator sickness because of vergence focus conflict. In other words the research question is “Do foveated displays deliver what they promise?”. Main outputs are expected: Knowledge integration from separate but complementary fields (theoretical), documentation of the current geospatial data management methods (survey), a new method to manage geospatial visualization displays (development), and a most valuable empirical analysis (experimentation) of a technology that is projected to provide cognitive advantages and improve the viewer comfort. The emerging model(s), method(s) and the validation of them through empirical surveys will bring original contributions to the knowledge in the geovisualization and human-computer interaction domains.