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Low Latency Rendering with Dataflow Architectures

Friston, S; (2017) Low Latency Rendering with Dataflow Architectures. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The research presented in this thesis concerns latency in VR and synthetic environments. Latency is the end-to-end delay experienced by the user of an interactive computer system, between their physical actions and the perceived response to these actions. Latency is a product of the various processing, transport and buffering delays present in any current computer system. For many computer mediated applications, latency can be distracting, but it is not critical to the utility of the application. Synthetic environments on the other hand attempt to facilitate direct interaction with a digitised world. Direct interaction here implies the formation of a sensorimotor loop between the user and the digitised world - that is, the user makes predictions about how their actions affect the world, and see these predictions realised. By facilitating the formation of the this loop, the synthetic environment allows users to directly sense the digitised world, rather than the interface, and induce perceptions, such as that of the digital world existing as a distinct physical place. This has many applications for knowledge transfer and efficient interaction through the use of enhanced communication cues. The complication is, the formation of the sensorimotor loop that underpins this is highly dependent on the fidelity of the virtual stimuli, including latency. The main research questions we ask are how can the characteristics of dataflow computing be leveraged to improve the temporal fidelity of the visual stimuli, and what implications does this have on other aspects of the fidelity. Secondarily, we ask what effects latency itself has on user interaction. We test the effects of latency on physical interaction at levels previously hypothesized but unexplored. We also test for a previously unconsidered effect of latency on higher level cognitive functions. To do this, we create prototype image generators for interactive systems and virtual reality, using dataflow computing platforms. We integrate these into real interactive systems to gain practical experience of how the real perceptible benefits of alternative rendering approaches, but also what implications are when they are subject to the constraints of real systems. We quantify the differences of our systems compared with traditional systems using latency and objective image fidelity measures. We use our novel systems to perform user studies into the effects of latency. Our high performance apparatuses allow experimentation at latencies lower than previously tested in comparable studies. The low latency apparatuses are designed to minimise what is currently the largest delay in traditional rendering pipelines and we find that the approach is successful in this respect. Our 3D low latency apparatus achieves lower latencies and higher fidelities than traditional systems. The conditions under which it can do this are highly constrained however. We do not foresee dataflow computing shouldering the bulk of the rendering workload in the future but rather facilitating the augmentation of the traditional pipeline with a very high speed local loop. This may be an image distortion stage or otherwise. Our latency experiments revealed that many predictions about the effects of low latency should be re-evaluated and experimenting in this range requires great care.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Low Latency Rendering with Dataflow Architectures
Event: University College London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Virtual-reality, latency, computer-graphics, human-computer-interaction, dataflow-computing
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1544925
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