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Enhanced Visualization: Making Space for 3-D Images

by Barry G. Blundell
John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ, 2007
Hardcover, 425 pages, US $99.95
ISBN: 978-0-471-78629-0.

Reviewed by Michael R. (Mike) Mosher
Saginaw Valley State University


This book is a refreshing change from narrowly focused books, driven by the market to support commercial software applications. Enhanced Visualization is a report by a British computer scientist upon a variety of electronic representational methods and technologies.

As early as Campbell Swinton’s 1912 television proposal using a cathode ray tube, scientists have worked on the representation of three dimensions on a flat screen. John Logie Baird’s "Televisor" was commercially available in 1930. In the Second World War, radar created its own rendering of objects in space, and work was being done on video guidance in German rocketry.

The book examines optics and characteristics of the eye, and the geometry of planar and volumetric screens. The author details swept-volume and static-volume techniques, their visual dead zones, display techniques and technology, stereoscopy and varifocal displays. We peruse photochromics and image refresh issues. There are tips on the care and feeding of voxels. OK, your reviewer made that last one up, but there is considerable discussion of volumetric descendants of the pixel.

The reader is given flow charts of interaction, as well as appropriate mathematical formula. Each chapter has a summary Discussion, and further questions called "Investigations", seemingly directed towards students. There is some discussion of traditional artistic rendering techniques, admirably short. Of greater interest to artists are the many patent drawings, detailed and carefully rendered line art, created to accurately document the inventors’ innovations.

Passions motivating Dr. Blundell’s research is evident in his choice of cover image, Frank Hurley’s photograph of the ship that carried the polar explorer Ernest Shackleton, stuck in the ice. The author praises the image and analyzes it for its lessons in spatial visualization, then reprints a colleague’s burst of poetry that the polar exploration inspired. It is noted is the author biography that Blundell is committed to ethically applying the 3D visualization techniques to distance education in the developing world. As Barry G. Blundell has methodically surveyed the field and its technologies in this book, this reviewer wishes him success in their applications.



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