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Simulating and visualising reality for interactive applications

Interaction, Simulation and Graphics Laboratory

Dr. Steven Collins, School of Computer Science and Statistics and Director of the Interaction Simulation & Graphics Lab., Trinity College Dublin

Founded in 1994, the ISG Lab in Trinity College Dublin has established itself as the leading Irish computer graphics research centre. The lab has a successful history of research in diverse areas of computer graphics including lighting simulation, real-time physically based animation, perceptual evaluation of animation and graphics, human motion simulation, computer graphics hardware and medical visualisation. To maximise the relevance of our research we’ve striven to establish strong relationships with industry and collaborate with many of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies including IBM, Sony Computer Entertainment, Autodesk and Electronic Arts. We also have a track record of commercialising our research and a great of example of this is Havok, one of Ireland’s most successful indigenous software companies, founded by ISG Lab members in the late 90’s to commercialise physics simulation research targeting the computer game industry.

The lab, located in the new Lloyd Institute of Trinity College Dublin is equipped with state of the art facilities including a Vicon motion capture suite, a Fakespace rear projected powerwall, a Sensable PHANTOM haptic manipulator, an Eyelink II eye tracker and laser scanning hardware. This coupled with generous donations of software from our industry partners provides our staff and students with a great environment for research and learning.

The ISG Lab has been involved with a large number of research projects over the years, with the support of Enterprise Ireland, SFI, HEA and IRCSET. Some highlights of this research include:
Virtual Dublin: a project to create a large scale simulation of Dublin’s urban centre with realistic crowd simulation. This project used the ISG’s Geopostor technology [1], an innovative new technique for displaying very large populations in real-time (see Figure 1).

Figure 1Figure 1: A researcher interacts with the Virtual Dublin system

Myocardial Infarction Simulation: this project involved the development of a virtual reality tool [2] which uses ECG measurements to recreate a volumetric simulation of the heart (see Figure 2).

Figure 2Figure 2: Simulation of the heart developed directly from ECG data

Real-time Rigid Body Dynamics: a project which calculates the effects of Newtonian mechanics [3] in interactive environments later became the basis of Havok’s game physics product revolutioning the game industry.


  1. Dobbyn S., et. al., Geopostors: a real-time geometry/impostor crowd rendering system, ACM Trans. Graph., (24)3, 2005.
  2. Ryan, J., et. al., A Virtual Reality Toolkit for the Diagnosis and Monitoring of Myocardial Infarctions, Volume Graphics, 55-62, 2005.
  3. O'Sullivan, C., et. al., Evaluating the visual fidelity of physically based animations, ACM Trans. Graph., (22)3, 2003