Developing algorithms for the digital displays of tomorrow

Prof. Piotr Didyk
Prof. Piotr Didyk

Media and Communication Service

Digital displays play a vital role in many professional and personal activities such as education, research, entertainment, communication, industry, and healthcare. But the remarkable growth of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications in these and other domains raises the question of how to reproduce essential visual cues, that is, the ability to perceive the world in three dimensions and mimic the experience of observing the real world. Researchers in the field of what today are also more appropriately called ‘computational displays’, agree that there are significant gaps between hardware, computational techniques, and understanding human visual perception. Among these we find Piotr Didyk, the 34-year-old senior assistant professor who has joined the USI Faculty of Informatics in spring 2018, who will address these issues in his research project named “Perceptually-Driven Optimizations of Graphics Content for Novel Displays” which in July was awarded an ERC Starting Grant worth 1,5 million euros.

The core issue at stake is that the abilities of modern display technologies to reproduce essential visual cues outperform the capabilities of today's algorithms for preparing content for currently available hardware designs. This translates into a poor visual quality and, at the same time, a massive need for computational capacity, which ultimately hamper the adoption of novel displays.

Prof. Didyk and his team of researchers will investigate how to combine hardware, computation, and visual perception into a unique platform where the capabilities of displays and quality requirements are represented in a shared space. The project will also focus on the key aspects of portable devices, such as energy efficiency and visual quality. The experiments and modeling of human perception will also provide crucial insights into new hardware developments, which will be necessary for development and standardization of new, high-quality display devices that will not only improve existing applications but also enable new ones. 

The project will focus on techniques that may become a key enabler for the new display technologies, and the impact could be similar to that of JPEG and MP3, where perception was driving these innovations at their core. In addition to the broad industry of entertainment, the new techniques will find applications in many other areas of interest as well: medical procedures and rescue operations, where information from external sources can be easily provided on augmented reality glasses; industrial visualizations and operations, which can be performed remotely; or training in tasks which normally involve significant risks or costs, e.g., plane operation. 


At Università della Svizzera italiana (USI), Piotr Didyk heads a group on Perception, Display, and Fabrication working in the field of computer graphics. In his research, he combines perception, computation, and hardware to create better display and fabrication techniques. His results led to 18 technical papers published and presented at the top-notch computer graphics conferences ACM SIGGRAPH and ACM SIGGRAPH Asia. Before joining USI, Piotr Didyk led his research group at Saarland University and Max Planck Institute for Informatics in Germany. He has also spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has obtained his Ph.D. degree from Saarland University and Max Planck Institute.