Virginia Tech's Advanced Research Computing (ARC) group made an impression at the 50th annual SIGGRAPH conference, held August 6-10, 2023 in Los Angeles. 

The Special Interest Group in Computer Graphics, or SIGGRAPH, community held its first conference in 1974, and has since become the premier international conference and exhibition on computer graphics and interactive techniques.   

Virginia Tech has been a presence and force at SIGGRAPH since 2000. Dr. Nicholas Polys, Director of Visual Computing for ARC  and Affiliate Professor of Computer Science returned for another year at the 2023 event, showing the latest Web-wide immersive and interactive 3D graphics innovations and applications from Virginia Tech. 

Time Tunnel experience installation 

Dr. Polys and the ARC team contributed 41 items to the exhibit ‘Computer Graphics Timeline: from 1974 to 2023’ (pictured above), which was shown in the Time Tunnel throughout the week. 

This animated timeline highlighted significant achievements, innovations, and breakthroughs made in computer graphics over the past 50 years of SIGGRAPH.

Cartographic Visualization Birds-Of-a-Feather

The ACM SIGGRAPH Cartographic Visualization Birds-Of-a-Feather (Carto BOF) session highlighted the future of digital mapping to support our daily lives. Presenters including The Web3D Consortium (of which Virginia Tech is a Directing Academic Member), ESRI, and Cesium demonstrated solutions for interactive cartographic display and interactive 3D mapping.

Dr. Polys presented the variety of Virginia Tech innovations in ‘Immersive Cartography’ including collaborative Viewshed Analysis of the Appalachian Trail, 3D Blacksburg for urban planning, the Stream Lab for watershed management (Stroubles Creek), USDA  professional Forester training, and virtual field trips for remote learning.

These represent collaborations with the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmenal Conservation, the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, the Catawba Sustainability Center, the School of Visual Arts, and the Department of Building Construction

man at lecturn making a presentation
On August 7, 2023, Dr. Nicholas Polys presented on the many innovations in ‘Immersive Cartography’ made over the last several years at the SIGGRAPH Cartographic Visualization Birds-Of-a-Feather session. Photo courtesy of Don Brutzman.

In addition, Dr. Polys was mentioned in "The Big 50: Celebrating 50 ACM SIGGRAPH Conferences," in IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, the IEEE CG&A SIGGRAPH Anniversary edition article for his role in the annual Carto BOF: innovating open source solutions and driving open standards for the durability, portability, interoperability of interactive, immersive, 3D, GIS-registered graphics.

X3D4 is Web3D Ready: a major upgrade to the X3D Graphics

Dr. Polys also co-presented "X3D4 is Web Ready: a major upgrade to the X3D Graphics" on August 7. X3D Version 4, which is the extended scene graph specification that includes glTF 2, MIDI, WebAudio, Physics, and WebXR. It has multiple file encodings and programming language bindings.

The X3D4 Architecture Specification is Web ready, used in dozens of 3D applications; highly mature, implemented, and functionally complete; X3D4 is undergoing final editorial review for International Standards Organization (ISO). Attendees learned how X3D4 has evolved to support the latest 3D data and multimedia rendering structures.  

Dr. Polys's co-presenters included Anita Havele  from the Web3D Consortium and Professor Don Brutzman of the Naval Postgraduate School.

3D Web Interoperability for the Metaverse

At the 3D Web Interoperability for the Metaverse presentation on August 8, industry leaders, Standards development Organizations (SDOs), the Metaverse Standards Forum (MSF), and developers discussed how best to make the Metaverse fully interoperable with the WWW and the Standards ecosystem.

The newly chartered 3D Web Interoperability Working Group in the Metaverse Standards Forum ( was discussed as a potent vehicle for progress. Dr. Polys presented at this session along with Neil Trevett (Nvidia, Khronos), Anita Havele (Web3D Consortium), Don Brutzman (Naval Postgraduate School), Dr. Johannes Behr (Threedy), and Integrated Virtual Networks (IVN).

As always, we were honored to have Dr. Polys and the ARC team contribute to the SIGGRAPH conference, and look forward to next year.