Interactive 3D Time-Integrated Solar Shadow Maps
Urban areas are characterized by a complex topography of buildings, terrain, vegetation and temporary structures, which, depending on their extent, geometry, geographic location and daytime, cast shadow on their surroundings. Given the importance of sunlight for various groups of interest and tasks, we argue that a comprehensive, accessible, usable and intuitive way of predicting its availability for specific usage contexts is surprisingly lacking. In our research, we are investigating how to improve the visual communication of urban solar conditions for various real-world usage scenarios like having a coffee in the sun, parking a car in the shade, or taking a photograph of a particular building in a favorable light. All of these activities take place over a period of time, not in a temporal instant, causing solar shadows to move. Hence, a static representation of the light situation at a distinct point in time, such as offered by available 3D urban maps or GIS systems, is often not sufficient for planning above mentioned recreational or professional activities.This factor is incorporated in our system by integrating shadow motion into a shadow map that covers arbitrary timeframes within a given day (Figure 1). Shadows are accumulated by projecting shadow maps from astronomically precise sun positions spanning over the defined timeframe. The number of sampling points directly influences the quality and speed of the rendering. All provided figures currently sample and integrate nine different sun positions.Using our system, questions in a manner of “Given a specific point in space, at which time will this point be in sun/shade again” can be answered. E.g., one would like to spend time in the sun at a specific Viennese “Kaffeehaus” (coffee place), from which time on (and for how long) will this space be sunlit (Figure 2). In the future, this process might even be automated.