Photorealistic material appearance capture


Description of impact

This case study ties together two of the university’s main purposes–research of the highest possible academic standing, and adoption, when applicable, of those research results by practitioners–showing that the two are not fundamentally contradictory. This goes counter to what is often implied in the
decades-long discussion on research as a question of exploration versus exploitation.

The research originates in Prof. Jaakko Lehtinen’s group in the Department of Computer Science. Their work on capture and reproduction of photorealistic surface appearance models from extremely scarce data using commodity devices (e.g., cell phones) has resulted in truly significant advances in a long-standing, hard and important computer vision problem, earning the first author four PhD
thesis awards and a postdoctoral position at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and, at the same time, produced algorithms so practical that they can be deployed in the real world. As proof of the latter, NVIDIA Corporation has licensed two research project results from Aalto for a total value of approx. $230 000, on non-exclusive terms that leave the door open for further commercial exploitation.

It is not the intention of this case study to imply in any way that all research carried out in a university should have similar direct applications potential, but instead to point out that when the fundamental and the applied point to the same direction, two-way connections between society, industry and academia enable efficient collection of the fruit to the benefit of all.