Jun 2016: Radio Bremen visits our lab to film the works of the Creative Unit "Intra-Operative Information" for a news magazine on the local TV station. Click here for the film at Radio Bremen. And Click here for the same film on our Website.

May 16, 2016: Patrick Lange was honored with the SIGSIM Best PhD Award at the ACM SIGSIM PADS Conference 2016.

Jun 19-21, 2015: G. Zachmann gives invited talk at the DAAD-Stipendiatentreffen in Bremen, Germany.

Dec 08-10, 2014: ICAT-EGVE 2014 and EuroVR 2014 conferences at the University of Bremen organized by G. Zachmann.

Sep 25-26, 2014: GI VR/AR 2014 conference at the University of Bremen organized by G. Zachmann.

Sep 24-25, 2014: VRIPHYS 2014 conference at the University of Bremen organized by G. Zachmann .

Feb 4, 2014: G. Zachmann gives invited talk on Interaction Metaphors for Collaborative 3D Environments at Learntec.

Jan 2014: G. Zachmann got invited to be a Member of the Review Panel in the Human Brain Project for the Competitive Call for additional project partners

Nov 2013: Invited Talk at the "Cheffrühstück 2013"

Oct 2013: Dissertation of Rene Weller published in the Springer Series on Touch and Haptic Systems.

Jun 2013: G. Zachmann participated in the Dagstuhl Seminar Virtual Realities (13241)

Jun 2013: Haptic and hand tracking demos at the OpenCampus.

Jun 2013: Invited talk at Symposium für Virtualität und Interaktion 2013 in Heidelberg by Rene Weller.

Apr 2013: Rene Weller was honored with the EuroHaptics Ph.D Award at the IEEE World Haptics Conference 2013.

Jan 2013: Talk at the graduation ceremony of the University of Bremen by Rene Weller.

Oct 2012: Invited Talk by G. Zachmann at the DLR VROOS Workshop Servicing im Weltraum -- Interaktive VR-Technologien zum On-Orbit Servicing in Oberpfaffenhofen, Munich, Germany.

Oct 2012: Daniel Mohr earned his doctorate in the field of vision-based pose estimation.

Sept 2012: G. Zachmann: Keynote Talk at ICEC 2012, 11th International Conference on Entertainment Computing.

Sep 2012: "Best Paper Award" at GI VR/AR Workshop in Düsseldorf.

Sep 2012: Rene Weller earned his doctorate in the field of collision detection.

Aug 2012: GI-VRAR-Calendar 2013 is available!


Autonomous Surgical Lamps

Project member: Prof. Dr. Gabriel Zachmann, M.Sc. Jörn Teuber

As part of the Creative Unit - Intra-Operative Information, we are developing algorithms for the autonomous positioning of surgical lamps in open surgery.

The basic idea is to take the point cloud given by the depth camera and render it from the perspective of the situs towards the working space of the lamps above the operating table. Based on this rendering, optimal positions for a given set of lamps are computed and applied.

For further information please visit our project homepage.

E-Mail: zach at

Pipeline ORScene

KaNaRiA: Kognitionsbasierte, autonome Navigation am Beispiel des Ressourcenabbaus im All

Project member: Prof. Dr. Gabriel Zachmann, M.Sc. Patrick Lange, M.Sc. Abhishek Srinivas

KaNaRiA (from its German acronym: Kognitionsbasierte, autonome Navigation am Beispiel des Ressourcenabbaus im All) is a joint venture of the University of Bremen and the Universität der Bundeswehr in Munich financed by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR - Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt).

The extraction of asteroid resources is of high interest for a great number of upcoming deep space missions aiming at a combined industrial, commercial and scientific utilization of space. The main technology driver enabling complex mission concepts in deep space is on-board autonomy. Such mission concepts generally include long cruise phases, multi-body fly-bys, planetary approach and rendezvous, orbiting in a-priori unknown dynamic environments, controlled descent, precise soft landing, docking or impacting, surface navigation or hopping.

The project comprises two major goals:

Invited talk by Telespacio VEGA Deutschland GmbH : [Slides]

Video: Cruise phase demo

Reference: [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX]

For further information please visit our project homepage

E-Mail: zach at


New Methodologies for Automotive PLM by combining Function-oriented Development with 3D CAD and Virtual Reality

Project member: Prof. Dr. Gabriel Zachmann, Dipl.-Inf. Moritz Cohrs

In the automotive industry, a function-oriented development approach extends the traditional component-oriented development by focusing an interdisciplinary development of vehicle functions as mechatronic and cyber-physical systems and it is an important measure to master the high and further increasing product complexity. In addition, technologies like virtual reality, computer-aided design (CAD) and virtual prototyping offer largely established tools for the automotive industry in order to handle different challenges across product lifecycle management. So far, however, the promising potentials of 3D virtual reality methods have not yet been evaluated in the context of an automotive function-oriented development. Therefore, this research focuses on the development of a novel function-oriented 3D methodology in order to significantly improve and streamline relevant workflows within a function-oriented development. Therefore, a consistent integration of function-oriented data with 3D CAD data is realized with a prototypical implementation and a novel function-oriented 3d methodology is developed. The benefits of the new methodology are assessed within multiple automotive use cases and further evaluated with user studies.

For further information please visit our project homepage.

E-Mail: moritz.cohrs at


Protosphere - A GPU-Assisted Prototype Guided Sphere Packing Algorithm for Arbitrary Objects

Project member: Prof. Dr. Gabriel Zachmann, Dr. Rene Weller

We present a new algorithm that is able to efficiently compute a space filling sphere packing for arbitrary objects. It is independent of the object's representation and can be easily extended to higher dimensions.

The basic idea is very simple and related to prototype based approaches known from machine learning. This approach directly leads to a parallel algorithm that we have implemented using CUDA. As a byproduct, our algorithm yields an approximation of the object's medial axis.

This project is partially funded by BMBF grant Avilus / 01 IM 08 001 U.

For further information please visit our project homepage.

Reference: [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX]

E-Mail: zach at

ReneSpherePacked ProtoSphereLogo GabrielSpherePacked

Haptesha - A Collaborative Multi-User Haptic Workspace

Project member: Prof. Dr. Gabriel Zachmann, Dr. Rene Weller

Haptesha is a haptic workspace that allows high fidelity two-handed multi-user interactions in scenarios containing a large number of dynamically simulated rigid objects and a polygon count that is only limited by the capabilities of the graphics card.

This project is partially funded by BMBF grant Avilus / 01 IM 08 001 U.

For further information please visit our project homepage.

Awards: Winner of RTT Emerging Technology Contest 2010

Reference: [BiBTeX]

E-Mail: zach at

HapteshaLogo HapteshaWorkspace

Real-time camera-based 3D hand tracking

Project member: Prof. Dr. Gabriel Zachmann, Dr. Daniel Mohr

Tracking a user's hand can be a great alternative to common interfaces for human-computer interaction. The goal of this project is to observe the hand with cameras. The captured images deliver the information needed to determine the hand position and state. Because of measurement noise, occlusion in the captured images, and real-time constraints, hand-tracking is a scientific challenge.

Our approach is model-based, utilizing multiple cameras to reduce uncertainty. In order to achieve real-time hand-tracking, we will try to reduce the very high complexity of the hand model, which has about 27 degrees of freedom.

This project is partially funded by DFG grant ZA292/1-1.

For further information please visit our project homepage.

Reference: [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX]

E-Mail: zach at


Inner Sphere Trees

Project member: Prof. Dr. Gabriel Zachmann, Dr. Rene Weller

Collision detection between rigid objects plays an important role in many fields of robotics and computer graphics, e.g. for path-planning, haptics, physically-based simulations, and medical applications. Today, there exist a wide variety of freely available collision detection libraries and nearly all of them are able to work at interactive rates, even for very complex objects

Most collision detection algorithms dealing with rigid objects use some kind of bounding volume hierarchy (BVH). The main idea behind a BVH is to subdivide the primitives of an object hierarchically until there are only single primitives left at the leaves. BVHs guarantee very fast responses at query time, as long as no further information than the set of colliding polygons is required for the collision response. However, most applications require much more information in order to solve or avoid the collisions.

One way to do this is to is to compute repelling forces based on the penetration depth. However, there is no universally accepted definition of the penetration depth between a pair of polygonal models. Mostly, the minimum translation vector to separate the objects is used, but this may lead to discontinuous forces.

Moreover, haptic rendering requires update rates of at least 200 Hz, but preferably 1 kHz to guarantee a stable force feedback. Consequently, the collision detection time should never exceed 5 msec.

We present a novel geometric data structure for approximate collision detection at haptic rates between rigid objects. Our data structure, which we call inner sphere trees, supports both proximity queries and the penetration volume; the latter is related to the water displacement of the overlapping region and, thus, corresponds to a physically motivated force. Our method is able to compute continuous contact forces and torques that enable a stable rendering of 6-DOF penalty-based distributed contacts.

The main idea of our new data structure is to bound the object from the inside with a bounding volume hierarchy, which can be built based on dense sphere packings. The results show performance at haptic rates both for proximity and penetration volume queries for models consisting of hundreds of thousands of polygons.

This project is partially funded by DFG grant ZA292/1-1 and BMBF grant Avilus / 01 IM 08 001 U.

For further information please visit our project homepage.

Reference: [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX]

E-Mail: zach at

ist-logo ist-bunny ist-ateneam ist-oilpump

Open-Source Benchmarking Suite for Collision Detection Libraries

Project member: Prof. Dr. Gabriel Zachmann, Dr. Rene Weller

Fast algorithms for collision detection between polygonal objects are needed in many fields of computer science. In nearly all of these applications, collision detection is the computational bottleneck. In order to gain a maximum speed of applications, it is essential to select the best suited algorithm.

The design of a standardized benchmarking suite for collision detection would make fair comparisons between algorithms much easier. Such a benchmark must be designed with care, so that it includes a broad spectrum of different and interesting contact scenarios. However, there are no standard benchmarks available to compare different algorithms. As a result, it is nontrivial to compare two algorithms and their implementations. In this project, we developed a simple benchmark procedure which eliminates these effects. It has been kept very simple so that other researchers can easily reproduce the results and compare their algorithms.

Our benchmarking suite is flexible, robust, and it is easy to integrate other collision detection libraries. Moreover, the benchmarking suite is freely available and can be downloaded here together with a set of objects in different resolutions that cover a wide range of possible scenarios for collision detection algorithms, and a set of precomputed test points for these objects.

For further information please visit our project homepage.

Reference: [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX]

E-Mail: zach at

benchmark-diagram benchmark-objects

Open-Source Collision Detection Library

Project member: Prof. Dr. Gabriel Zachmann, Dr. Rene Weller

Fast and exact collision detection between a pair of graphical objects undergoing rigid motions is at the core of many simulation and planning algorithms in computer graphics and related areas (for instance, automatic path finding, or tolerance checking). In particular, virtual reality applications such as virtual prototyping or haptic rendering need exact collision detection at interactive speed for very complex, arbitrary ``polygon soups''. It is also a fundamental problem of dynamic simulation of rigid bodies, simulation of natural interaction with objects, haptic rendering, path planning, and CAD/CAM.

In order to provide an easy-to-use library for other researchers and open-source projects, we have implemented our algorithms in an object-oriented library, which is based on OpenSG. It is structured as a pipeline (proposed by [Zach01a]), contains algorithms for the broad phase (grid, convex hull test, separating planes), and the narrow phase (Dop-Tree, BoxTree, etc.).

For further information please visit our project homepage.

Reference: [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX]

E-Mail: zach at


Point-based Object Representation

Project member: Prof. Dr. Gabriel Zachmann

Partners: This project was conducted in cooperation with the Algorithmen und Komplexität group at Paderborn University, headed by Prof. Friedhelm Meyer auf der Heide

In the past few years, point clouds have had a renaissance caused by the wide-spread availability of 3D scanning technology. In order to render and interact with objects thus represented, one must define an appropriate surface (even if it is not explicitly reconstructed). This definition should produce a surface as close to the original surface as possible while being robust against noise (introduced by the scanning proc ess). At the same time, it should allow to render and interact with the object as fast as possible.

In this project we have worked on such a definition. It builds on an implicit function defined using weighted least squares (WLS) regression and geoetric proximity graphs. This yields several improvements such as adaptive kernel bandwidth, automatic handling of holes, and feature-preserving smoothing.

We also investigate methods that can quickly identify intersections of objects represented in such a way. This is, again, greatly facilitated by utilizing graph algorithms on the proximity graphs.

Reference: [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX]

E-Mail: zach at

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Special-Purpose Hardware for Collision Detection

Project member: Prof. Dr. Gabriel Zachmann

Partners: Technische Informatik group at Bonn University, headed by Prof. Joachim Anlauf.

Collision detection is one of the most time-consuming tasks in all kinds of physical modeling and rendering. Among them are, to name just a few, virtual prototyping, haptic rendering, games, animation systems, automatic path finding, remote control of vehicles (tele-presence), medical training, and medical planning systems.

All of these areas pose high demands on collision detection: it should be real-time under all circumstances, and it must be able to handle large numbers of objects and large numbers of polygons. For some applications, such as physically-based simulation or haptic rendering, the performance of the collision detection should be much higher than the rendering itself (for haptics, a cycle time of 1000 Hz must be achieved).

From the very beginning, special purpose hardware has always been designed for rendering computer graphics. This makes sense because of two reasons. First, the system can render graphics while it is already doing the computations for the next frame. Second, the process of rendering itself can be broken down into lots of small sub-tasks.

Currently however, as we all know, the computational power of graphics cards (i.e., rendering power) increases faster than Moore's Law, while the computing power of the general purpose CPU increases ``only'' by Moore's Law. This leads to a situation where interactive graphics applications, such as VR systems, computer games, CAD, or medical simulations, can render much more complex models than they can simulate.

Motivated by the above findings, the overall objective of this project is the development of specialized hardware for PC-based VR and entertainment systems to deliver real-time collision detection for large-scale and complex environments. This in turn will allow for real-time physically-based behavior of complex rigid bodies in large-scale scenarios.

In addition, the infrastructure for integrating the chip into a standard PC will be developed, which includes development of drivers, API, monitoring tools, and libraries. Finally, several representative sample applications will be developed demonstrating the performance gain of the newly developed hardware. These will encompass applications from virtual prototyping as well as the gaming and the computer animation industry.

This project is partially funded by DFG grant ZA292/2-1.

For further information please visit our project homepage.

Reference: [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX]

E-Mail: zach at

hardware-img1 hardware-img2

Kinetic Bounding Volume Hierarchies for Deformable Objects

Project member: Prof. Dr. Gabriel Zachmann, Dr. Rene Weller

Bounding volume hierarchies for geometric objects are widely employed in many areas of computer science to accelerate geometric queries, e.g., in computer graphics for ray-tracing, occlusion culling and collision detection. Usually, a bounding volume hierarchy is constructed in a pre-processing step which is suitable as long as the objects are rigid. However, deformable objects play an important role, e.g., for creating virtual environments in medical applications or cloth simulation. If such an object deforms, the pre-processed hierarchy becomes invalid.

In order to still use this method for deforming objects as well, it is necessary to update the hierarchies after the deformation happened.

In this project, we utilize the framework of event-based kinetic data structures for designing and analyzing new algorithms for updating bounding volume hierarchies undergoing arbitrary deformations. In addition, we apply our new algorithms and data structures to the problem of collision detection.

Reference: [BiBTeX] [publication] [Book] [BiBTeX]

E-Mail: zach at


Natural Interaction in Virtual Environments

Project member: Prof. Dr. Gabriel Zachmann, Dr. Rene Weller

Virtual reality (VR) promised to allow users to experience and work with three-dimensional computer-simulated environments just like with the real world. Currently, VR offers a lot of efficient and more or less intuitive interaction paradigms.

However, users still cannot interact with virtual environments in a way they are used to in the real world. In particular, the human hand, which is our most versatile tool, is still only very crudely represented in the virtual world. Natural manual operations, such as grasping, pinching, pushing, etc., cannot be performed with the virtual hand in a plausible and efficient way in real-time.

Therefore, the goal of this project is to model and simulate the real human hand by a virtual hand. Such a virtual hand is controlled by the user of a virtual environment via hand tracking technologies, such as a CyberGlove or camera-based hand tracking (see our companion project). Then, the interaction between such a human hand model and the graphical objects in the virtual environment is to be modelled and simulated, such that the afore mentioned natural hand operations can be performed efficiently. Note that our approach is not to try to achieve physical correctness of the interactions but to achieve real-time under all circumstances while maintaining physical plausbility.

In order to achieve our goal, we focus our research on deformable collision detection, physically-based simulation, and realistic animation of the virtual hand.

This technology will have a number of very useful applications, which can, until now, not be performed effectively and satisfactorily. Some of them are virtual assembly simulation, 3D sketching, medical surgery training, or simulation games.

This project is partially funded by DFG grant ZA292/1-1.

Reference: [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX] [BiBTeX]

E-Mail: zach at