ISPRS Annals of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume II-2/W1
13 Sep 2013
 | 13 Sep 2013


J. Klimke, B. Hagedorn, and J. Döllner

Keywords: Virtual 3D City Model, Mobile 3D Visualization, Web-Based 3D Portrayal, Image-Based Rendering, Tile-Based Provisioning

Abstract. Virtual 3D city models provide powerful user interfaces for communication of 2D and 3D geoinformation. Providing high quality visualization of massive 3D geoinformation in a scalable, fast, and cost efficient manner is still a challenging task. Especially for mobile and web-based system environments, software and hardware configurations of target systems differ significantly. This makes it hard to provide fast, visually appealing renderings of 3D data throughout a variety of platforms and devices. Current mobile or web-based solutions for 3D visualization usually require raw 3D scene data such as triangle meshes together with textures delivered from server to client, what makes them strongly limited in terms of size and complexity of the models they can handle.

In this paper, we introduce a new approach for provisioning of massive, virtual 3D city models on different platforms namely web browsers, smartphones or tablets, by means of an interactive map assembled from artificial oblique image tiles. The key concept is to synthesize such images of a virtual 3D city model by a 3D rendering service in a preprocessing step. This service encapsulates model handling and 3D rendering techniques for high quality visualization of massive 3D models. By generating image tiles using this service, the 3D rendering process is shifted from the client side, which provides major advantages: (a) The complexity of the 3D city model data is decoupled from data transfer complexity (b) the implementation of client applications is simplified significantly as 3D rendering is encapsulated on server side (c) 3D city models can be easily deployed for and used by a large number of concurrent users, leading to a high degree of scalability of the overall approach. All core 3D rendering techniques are performed on a dedicated 3D rendering server, and thin-client applications can be compactly implemented for various devices and platforms.