The approach that has attracted the major industry partners is the idea that research and development best occurs in the context of project based activity. Although this is a seemingly simple statement it finds specific relevance when dealing with the Architectural/Engineering/Construction (AEC) industry and our partners due to the intensity of datasets and visualization. The potency of demonstration over analysis or simple presentation requires a synthesis of technologies not currently available. Issues of pure research of new media and visualization technologies are best pursued in the intense and complex application of tools in a real world scenario. The added benefit is relevance in the cultural, social, political, worlds that gather a wide cross section of partners/stakeholders from the public, business, and policy makers to specialized scientific and academic communities.
Architecture and urban design are an ideal context for such application and innovation due to the complexity of content and intensity in which digital technologies are tested. Issues of large and diverse datasets, heavy geometry, realistic rendering of materials, dynamic lighting, abstractions of structure, organization and systems, interactivity, and time-based media all contribute to the many facets of research and development. The variety of audiences also impacts the speed, mode, and sophistication of output and delivery.
Research at CIMS embodies a depth of field that spans the realm of digital media and technology from the crafting of digital environments of existing and non-extant worlds to the development of broadband infrastructures and collaborative environments that open up potentials for participatory work and the exchange of ideas. At the core of our research, we strive to position ourselves at the intersection of the creation of culturally significant content and the boundary-breaking technology that enables us to offer unique and relevant voices and points of view.
Existing Conditions & Building Digitization
The investigation and representation of the built world is the primary foundation upon which CIMS research programs reside. CIMS uses both traditional and exploratory methods of looking at existing architectural conditions through the use of a variety of digital tools and informed by architectural skill sets.
In Digital Architecture Reconstruction Program 1.0, CIMS re-visited the site of the Convent of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart site in Ottawa, a building demolished in 1972, in order to resurrect a story with intertwining points of view of historical preservation, community activism and the role of digital documentation. In a second Canadian Heritage funded project (DARP 2.0) the existing condition under investigation is the urban area of lower Boulevard St. Laurent in Montreal. As this area is currently undergoing urban and commercial redevelopment, this project serves both to document a pivotal time in its history and the potential to project a future for the site that is of interest to city officials, personal stakeholders and the community alike.
CIMS also undertook the digital reconstruction of the famed Salk Institute in La Jolla, California as part of a real-time demonstration in collaboration with the National Research Council Canada, Communications Research Centre Canada and CANARIE at iGrid 2005. In efforts to showcase the 10Gb User Controlled Light Path, the model of building was used to assess and confirm digital content production processes and the exchange of large data sets in real-time over long distances. Documentation of existing conditions of the Salk Institute was used to enhance and make more accurate the original model built in Ottawa.
High Performance Visualization
This realm of CIMS' research program includes three areas of interest: (1) Deep Computing Visualization and rendering clusters; (2) Immersive Environments; and (3) "User Controlled Light Path" (UCLP) broadband network technologies.
CIMS is one of five initial locations chosen by IBM Research to pilot its "Deep Computing Visualization" (DCV) high-performance visualization cluster solution to drive extremely large data sets in real-time on sophisticated display and projection technologies. The digital assets produced by DARP 1.0 and 2.0 are the sole cultural content to be tested on the project. With the addition of immersive environment (IE) technologies (Cyclo, Panoscope) from the Society of Arts and Technology the content-based and applied research in the areas of High Performance Visualization systems and collaborative work environments can be further developed and tested while contributing to IE research itself. Critical to this combination of dependent technologies is the broadband network infrastructure which constitutes an area of applied research with the Communications Research Centre of Canada (CRC) and the National Research Council, Broadband Visual Communication research group (NRC-BVC) on control and application "User Controlled Light Path" (UCLP) technology. This technology allows users to configure high speed point-to-point network connections through web services to establish stable and low latency connections. Such capabilities will dramatically impact network-based visualization and collaborative environments scenarios that utilize real-time digital video broadcast, multi-user 3D virtual environments, and transfer of large digital data sets.
CIMSp - 3D Imaging & Modelling Protocol
Through DARP 1.0, CIMS has developed a unique protocol that integrates multi-sensor 3D non-contact imaging technologies (laser scanning and photogrammetry) with user-dependent modeling, animation, compositing and rendering with various modes and fidelities of output from interactive WWW deployment to high-resolution immersive and collaborative work environments. The protocol forms the core of our research agenda and is a mode of creation and production that aims to transform the technologies and their interrelation, thus dramatically impacting the creative process and intended content. The objective of this research is to further establish and develop a comprehensive, globally-applicable, scalable production protocol for the consistent three-dimensional digitization of the built environment that allows for the fusion of heterogeneous 3D data at each stage of the acquisition/creation/deployment process.
New Media Tool Development
The crafting of digital artifacts requires a unique and rarified skill set and tool palette that necessitates the fluid customization and interoperability of the new media tools utilized. CIMS research promotes a synthetic creative process that aims to strike a balance between technological mediation and the imaginative requirements of the users. Researchers from various disciplines, from architecture and industrial design to computer and systems engineering, work closely to customize and develop new media tools, middleware, and devices of design with industry and institutional partners. The higher level interoperability of the digital tools that comprise CIMSp with the High-Performance Visualization, immersive and collaborative work environments that utilize broadband networks require customization and development to realize their potential impact on the industries and cultural sectors found within this new media landscape.