VR Object Display

Feb. 01, 2004 to Dec. 31, 2009

Customers want to hold new products in their hands, or at least walk around them and admire them from all sides and angles. Until now, the images generated in 3D product presentations have been large but lacking in immediacy: projections on one or more screens, e.g. using Caves technology, leave viewers with the impression that the product is in some sort of window display. Viewing from different angles is only possible using special interaction devices such as joysticks, but that generates a sense of remoteness between viewer and object. To address these problems, Fraunhofer FIRST has developed a digital advertising pillar which in addition to rendering still images or videos also allows realistic 3D projection of panoramas and objects.

New Dimensions in Interaction

In classical Virtual Reality installations, the viewer is either in a virtual room, e.g. when using Cave technology, or looking through a “window”, namely the screen, into a room containing objects. The interaction paradigms established here assume that the object must be rotated in order to view it from different sides. The VR Object Display adopts a different approach, making it possible to walk around the projected objects as if they were real. That is more in keeping with people’s natural and intuitive ways of interacting and lends the objects greater immediacy than the established VR interaction paradigms. In addition, the VR Object Display enables the 3D rendering to be adjusted to the exact position of the viewer via a tracking function, thus generating an optimal image that comes very close to that of a hologram.


The prototype of Fraunhofer FIRST’s VR Object Display is implemented in the form of a cylinder. It is equipped with eight standard projectors that project the image on to a special screen. The light coming from the projectors is filtered using the so-called Infitec method, i.e. it is split into three narrowband channels (red, green, blue), producing a very rich, high contrast image. A resolution of approx. 2000 × 500 pixels can be achieved using this method for 3D projection. The projectors’ light beams are not projected directly on to the cylinder’s screen but, as is usual with such methods, via mirrors. The resulting distortion of the image is corrected in real time using the autocalibrating software developed by Fraunhofer FIRST. This software also ensures edgeless image blending, the partial images fitting together perfectly so that no edges are visible. A tracking function is available, making it possible to achieve an optimal image when rendering objects in 3D, e.g. for product presentations. A magnetic tracker is used to determine the exact position and perspective of the viewer. The tracking software then aligns the object accordingly. Details of the object can be selected using a configurator whose features include a zoom function. The visual impression can be enhanced by directed sound. This is particularly interesting for the tracking ode because the sound can, like the image, be directed to the viewer’s exact position.

Application Areas

The VR Object Display is highly versatile. Not only is it suitable for all sorts of product presentations, the cylinder can also be used to project architectural models and art objects. In addition, it allows the rendering of images, videos, panoramas or 3D scenes and films. Other potential applications are in the show sector and its use by the advertising industry as a type of digital advertising pillar. Development of the VR Object Display is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the LaserCave project.