Virtual Ray Tracer

Willard A. Verschoore de la Houssaye, Chris S. van Wezel, Steffen Frey, Jiri Kosinka

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

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Ray tracing is one of the more complicated techniques commonly taught in (introductory) Computer Graphics courses. Visualizations can help with understanding complex ray paths and interactions, but currently there are no openly accessible applications that focus on education. We present Virtual Ray Tracer, an interactive application that allows students/users to view and explore the ray tracing process in real-time. The application shows a scene containing a camera casting rays which interact with objects in the scene. Users are able to modify and explore ray properties such as their animation speed, the number of rays as well as the material properties of the objects in the scene. The goal of the application is to help the users-students of Computer Graphics and the general public-to better understand the ray tracing process and its characteristics. To invite users to learn and explore, various explanations and scenes are provided by the application at different levels of complexity. A user study showed the effectiveness of Virtual Ray Tracer in supporting the understanding and teaching of ray tracing. Our educational tool is built with the cross-platform engine Unity, and we make it fully available to be extended and/or adjusted to fit the requirements of courses at other institutions or of educational tutorials.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEurographics 2022 - Education Papers
EditorsJean-Jacques Bourdin, Eric Paquette
PublisherThe Eurographics Association
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)978-3-03868-170-0
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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