San Francisco 2017 Diary: day 4

Tuesday 31 January, 2017. 19:20

I didn’t sleep very well, and struggled out of bed when the alarm went off at 08:00. After a breakfast of bagels and cream cheese, I went down for the first talks of the day at the conference.

Today there were sessions on image quality measurement and the image processing pipeline, as well as a plenary talk on “Making virtual reality better than reality”. This talk was mostly about the challenges of producing a convincing 3D experience that avoids clashes between the different 3D cues. A good part of the talk was actually about differences in people’s eyesight, and the fact that people with different refractive errors respond differently to the monocular lens accommodation cue. A particularly interesting finding was that people over about 40 years old and developing presbyopia show such poor accommodation that it actually provides a worse 3D experience if you change the focus distance of the virtual image, since rather than accommodating for it, such people merely see a blurry image. So you have to design your VR headsets to work differently with people of different vision or ages.

Google 360
Monkey with a Google 360 VR camera array

There were a couple of talks by students, who were clearly very nervous. I felt for them, because it’s a tough and intimidating thing giving your first conference talk to an audience of people who’ve been in the field for years. I saw one afterwards standing alone, clearly not knowing anyone to talk to, during the demo session and made a point of going up her, and introduced myself and complimented her on her talk.

Autonomous vehicle
Monkey with an autonomous vehicle obstacle detection system

For lunch, I had the committee meeting of the Digital Photography sub-conference, which was at Grand Harbor, a Chinese restaurant just across the road and up a bit from the hotel. I walked over with Francisco and we met the other committee members there. We had a private room upstairs booked for 20 people, and squeezed in around a huge circular table with a giant lazy susan in the middle. Zhen tried starting the business part of the meeting, but kept getting interrupted by waiters, so two guys went out to sort out the food ordering while the rest of us discussed business. The major issue facing the conference is soliciting enough papers to ensure a quality conference, when we don’t have the prestige of conferences like SIGGRAPH or CVPR. There was a lot of discussion and various options raised, which I won’t go into here.

The food was good, though some of the dishes were a little unusual from my perspective. There were battered king prawns which came on crispy noodles… but they were covered with mayonnaise. There were a few different prawn and pork dumplings, and one with a big net of fried stuff stuck to the bottom. Some steamed buns came out midway through the meal and I grabbed one, but when I bit into it I found it was filled with custard! I saved the rest for the end of the meal. There were a couple of different stir fried prawn and beef dishes, and some greens and tofu and mushrooms, and a huge patter of fried rice, And at the end of all this, when everyone was basically full, they brought out Peking duck! It was a bit odd, because the pancakes, normally paper thin at home, were really really thick, like a full centimetre thick. I force myself to try one, and it tasted great, but honestly the thick pancakes are a mistake; thin is better. Finally they brought out custard tarts, but I had enough sweet with my leftover half custard bun. There was so much food left over, I could have taken it and not needed to get any more on this trip.

Volumetric display
Monkey with an experimental volumetric 3D display

After the afternoon talk session, we had the demo session, where various companies and research groups showed off interactive demos of their products or research. I had Dietmar measure the spectral response of my new 5D Mark IV camera with his Image Engineering stuff. And Monkey had a good time getting into the various interactive demos. I had a Chardonnay with my free drink voucher, after Monkey managed to get red wine on his beanie and face last night.

I was too full from lunch still to consider much of a dinner. Rather than go out to a full on restaurant, I just went down to the bar in the hotel, to get a drink and something relatively light, They had a veggie pizza, which sounded decent and not too unhealthy, so I tried that. It was okay, but the crust was not particularly good. And now I’ve eaten, it’s back to my room to relax, read a bit, and try to get some sleep.

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