Research Profile: Falko Kuester

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Prof. Falko Kuester (
Calit2 Professor for Visualzation and Virtual Reality
Associate Professor, Department of Structural Engineering
Associate Professor (Adj.), Department of Computer Science and Engineering
Jacobs School of Engineering
University of California, San Diego
Contact Information


Academic Background

Dr. Kuester received an MS degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1994 and MS degree in Computer Science and Engineering in 1995 from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In 2001 he received his PhD from the University of California, Davis and currently is the Calit2 Professor for Visualization and Virtual Reality at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Kuester holds appointments as Associate Professor in the Departments of Structural Engineering and Computer Science and Engineering and serves as the director of the Calit2 Center of GRAVITY (Graphics, Visualization and Imaging Technology).

Research Interests

Dr. Kuester's research interests include tera-scale scientific visualization and virtual reality, image-based modeling and rendering, as well as distributed and remote visualization. His research efforts are aimed at creating intuitive, high-resolution virtual environments, providing engineers and scientists with a means to intuitively explore and analyze massive and complex, higher-dimensional datasets. In this context, his focus is on developing new methods for the acquisition, compression, streaming, synchronization and visualization of data. He applies these techniques to research challenges posed by distributed virtual environments and their application to earth system science, earthquake engineering, biomedical engineering and medicine. Dr. Kuester has been active in virtual reality research for over a decade and the stringent VR requirements have served as important performance criteria for his large-scale distributed data analysis and visualization projects. He is also active in research and development of digitally enabled workspaces that support distributed, collaborative and pervasive office of the future and classroom of the future environments. Other application areas of his research include simulation-based design, rapid prototyping, computational fluid dynamics, command and control and forensic analysis.

Research Projects

Tera-Scale Scientific Visualization
Large-scale computing and networking initiatives have provided scientists with substantial resources for the simulation of complex physical phenomena, resulting in an overwhelming amount of scientific data being created at increasingly shorter time intervals. Falko Kuester's research emphasizes parallel and distributed rendering algorithms for massive volumetric data that leverage software and hardware based streaming, rendering and compositing strategies. Research in this area is focused on scalable algorithms that provide high-quality and interactive visuals on machines ranging from laptops to massively parallel clusters.

Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality
Since 1993, Falko Kuester has being active in virtual reality research. Early research culminated in the development of the first virtual reality systems for human factors and ergonomic studies used by Chrysler. Rapid prototyping and simulation based design techniques have been at the heart of his research interests in this area. Other application areas include the visualization of simulated and measured data from the fields of biomedical imaging, computations fluid dynamics and earthquake engineering. To satisfy the need for precise non-invasive tracking and intuitive input devices he is currently working on image-based techniques for tracking and scene virtualization, and wireless devices such as a new generation of data gloves for keyboard independent touch typing.

Collaborative Environments
We are extending the concept of "Office of the Future" and "Classroom of the Future" environments and have introduced a new foundation for the development of "Living Laboratories," collaborative workspaces that draw from research in pervasive communications and computing, human computer interaction and interfaces, as well a scalable techniques for real-time visualization of massive data sets. Our NSF-funded VizClass environment and its VizION middleware are the anchor stone for this research.

Information Visualization
The focus is on the development of new algorithms that map multi-dimensional, time-varying information to lower-dimensional spaces. The combination of rank-reducing operations and interactive exploration is being explored in the context of a next generation, massively tiled, display system, called HIPerWall. HIPerWall will operate at the perception threshold of the human eye and provide researchers with and unprecedented amount of visual information.

Biomedical Engineering & Bioinformatics
We closely work with researchers at the Brain Imaging Center (BIC) and the Transdisciplinary Imaging Genetics Center (TIGC) at UC Irvine. Research addresses new data fusion and rendering techniques.that provide a means to combine a broad range of data sources including CT, MRI, fMRI, PET, OCT and EEG with genetic information. To facilitate collaboration between spatially separated domain expert, research in this area also drives the development of new collaborative environments. <More>

Image-Based Modeling and Rendering
Traditionally, the acquisition of three-dimensional avatars from real humans relied on the utilization of body suits, optical or magnetic markers, or complex and expensive three-dimensional scanners. Major drawbacks that these capture systems introduce are equipment cost, portability and the required degree of human intervention to ensure compelling visual results. Our research in this area is targeting the development of an image-based modeling and rendering pipeline that enables the creation of photorealistic 3D models from sets of images or video streams. We are particularly interested in the construction of realistic human avatars that combine a high-quality geometric model with a bio-mechanically correct skeleton.

Machine Vision & Vision Based Sensor Networks
Research investigates vision-based sensor networks for the monitoring of structural and non-structural systems with applications in the areas of real-time motion capture, situation awareness and emergency response.

Earthquake Engineering
Living in the seismically most active state in the US, earthquake engineering research is very close to our hearts. Different techniques for the acquisition, processing and visualization of earthquake related data are being investigated on the macro and micro scale. This includes the visualization of historic earthquake events, fault planes and earthquake hypocenters and the visualization of simulation and field collected data records describing the performance of buildings as well as non-structural components within these buildings.



Contact Information

Prof. Falko Kuester
California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2)
2302 Atkinson Hall
9500 Gilman Drive, MC 0445
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, California 92093-0445
Phone: 858.534.9953

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