Updated: Nov 19
3D to 4D G-Splats in VR and AR
In the vast landscape of digital content, we've witnessed an evolution from grainy black and white photos to high-resolution videos, and now, to the cusp of interactive and immersive experiences. As a web designer and developer, I find the journey towards this new horizon both fascinating and brimming with potential.
The Foundation: Static to Dynamic
Imagine opening an old photo album; each picture tells a story, frozen in time. Now, with video, those stories unfold with motion and sound, adding depth to our reminiscences. But what if we could step into those memories? What if we could walk the halls of our childhood homes once more, not just as spectators but as participants in a moment long passed? This isn't a mere flight of fancy. It's a vision slowly being brought to life by advancements in computer graphics and, more specifically, through the magic of 4D Gaussian splats.
Enter Gaussian Splatting
In technical terms, Gaussian splatting is a rendering technique used in computer graphics. It's like painting with a digital brush that has a soft, feathered edge (that's the "Gaussian" part, named after the mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss). This brush doesn't just dab color onto a flat canvas; it adds volume and depth, turning points into a cloud of color that seems to hover in space.
From Splats to Meshes
In the realm of 3D graphics, these splats have been used to create complex shapes and surfaces, known as meshes. Meshes are like the skeletons of 3D models, giving structure to the otherwise shapeless cloud of points. They're the wireframes on which the visuals of our favorite video games and movies are built.
The Leap to 4D
But what about 4D? The fourth dimension here refers to time. A 4D Gaussian splat isn't just a shape but a shape that changes over time. It's a point that grows, shifts, and morphs. When we apply this concept to videos—our recorded memories—we begin to see the potential. These splats can represent a moment, expanding as time moves forward, allowing us to view not just a static point in time but a span of moments.
Interactive, Localized Meshes?
Maybe make a point splat mesh like this: Direct Mapping: Each splat directly corresponds to a point (or set of points) in the mesh. As the splat undergoes any transformation, the mesh point follows suit. If the splat moves to the left, the point moves to the left. If the splat grows in size, perhaps the point-mesh around that splat could expand or become denser. Fluidity in Motion: Imagine the splats as buoys floating on water. As they move, the net (or mesh) attached to them adjusts and moves with them. This creates a fluid, dynamic motion in the mesh that's directly influenced by the movement and behavior of the splats. Temporal Dynamics: If the splat data is changing over time (like in a sequence or animation), the point-mesh would continuously adjust and evolve frame by frame, creating a moving, dynamic representation. Overlapping and Merging: If two splats come close or overlap, the corresponding points in the mesh might also come closer, merge, or influence each other in some manner, depending on the design and algorithm in place. Interactivity: This approach also opens doors for interactivity. A user (like a designer or animator) could directly manipulate a splat and see real-time adjustments in the corresponding mesh, providing a tactile and intuitive way to shape and design 3D structures or animations. In essence, by directly linking the behavior of the splats to the motion and structure of a point-mesh, you can create a dynamic, responsive, and potentially more intuitive system for mesh generation and manipulation. It's a concept that harmoniously blends data representation with visual aesthetics and user interaction.
A Vision of Interactive Memories
Now, envision this technology applied to your old home videos. You're no longer just watching your seventh birthday party; you're there, able to look around, see the expressions of surprise and joy on faces from all angles as you blow out the candles. The future could even allow us to interact within scenes from our favorite movies. Imagine ducking behind the barricades with the rebels in a sci-fi classic or waltzing in the grand ballroom of a romantic period drama.
Conclusion: The Future of Our Past
4D Gaussian splats could redefine our relationship with our past, making it something we don't just remember but something we can explore and experience anew. This isn't just preserving memories; it's reawakening them. While the technology is still in its infancy, the possibilities are as boundless as our own imagination. The day when we can walk through our memories and favorite cinematic moments might be closer than we think, bringing an unprecedented level of intimacy and immersion to our digital interactions with the past.
Here are some fun links:
Basic Gaussian Splats from movie scenes:
and then in VR
4D Gaussian Splatting