Attila Szabo's instrument is the computer. The computer scientist has been a researcher in the GeoSMAQ Group of VRVis for many years. As an expert in reconstruction, photos and images, and signal reconstruction, he creates solutions for intelligent, interactive mapping of the real world by digital means. His current focus is on working with geographic and geometric data and the efficient reuse of extensive real-world data in planning and architecture. Especially for these applications, laser scanners and photogrammetric surveying now provide a lot of data very fast and quite inexpensively. However, there are not many practical answers to the question of how best to handle large point clouds. This is where Attila Szabo comes in: He researches and develops reconstruction methods that speed up and simplify planning by deriving 3D models of relevant geometries, such as the edge of a house, a building, or even an entire road network, from large point clouds. The focus is always on intuitive and interactive use of complex data.
From Lower Austria to TU Wien
The fact that Attila Szabo works on and with the computer today has basically to do with a happy coincidence, as the school in his small Lower Austrian home community was one of the first in the area to receive a computer, sponsored by the state of Lower Austria, in the 1990s. The interaction with the computer and the individual programs excited the student Szabo from the very beginning: a machine, with a screen and powered by electricity, but it was, above all, a system that interacts and performs operations at the request and input of humans. This interactivity was what fascinated Attila Szabo the most and, in combination with his interest in video games, motivated him to study computer graphics at the TU Wien.
Joining the VRVis research center through an internship
Attila Szabo learned about the opportunity to do an internship at VRVis from a friend and now research colleague Andreas Walch. What he particularly liked was the mentoring by experienced senior researchers such as Michael Schwärzler or Stefan Maierhofer, who took a lot of time to help him get started in scientific work and also the GeoSMAQ research group. In the meantime, Attila Szabo is firmly anchored in the research and development work with corporate partner rmDATA and also publishes scientific papers as the first author, such as the well-received paper "Feature-assisted interactive geometry reconstruction in 3D point clouds using incremental region growing" in Computers & Graphics (read here).
Computer graphics in transition: Human-in-the-loop as a design principle
What began as a young man with a special interest in the aesthetic image design of computer games has developed into an enthusiasm for minimalist design as part of his research in applied computer graphics. For Szabo, functional minimalism is now a much more exciting design approach that follows its own aesthetic than, say, pure computer game graphics. Visual computing is the ideal scientific discipline for the researcher in this respect, since graphics or visualization is always conceived together with interactivity: Thus, visual computing is also an indispensable key technology in the sense of digital humanism, in order to place people and their needs at the center of any technological development. What is needed, especially when dealing with complex data and information, is a comprehensible, intuitive operation in which communication, interaction, visualization, and computing power are combined to empower users in dealing with computer programs and software tools.
Empowerment and community are generally important aspects of Attila Szabo's research work. He is part of the core team around Aardvark, an open source platform that has been collaboratively researched and developed across many research projects for over a decade. Aardvark consists of many repositories and about 100 libraries suitable for a wide range of applications in visual computing as well as in a variety of fields such as mathematics, physics, computer vision, image processing, and photogrammetric reconstruction. Physically precise lighting design or the visualization of planetary scans from recent Mars space missions are just a few examples of Aardvark's applications.
Translation work: from science into practice
Building bridges between research and industry is a core task of a COMET center like VRVis. The concrete goal is to ensure that the latest findings in visual computing reach companies and strengthen them technologically. This is also the case with Attila Szabo, who researches new solutions to support national and international partners. As an expert in reconstruction, photogrammetry, signal reconstruction and, in general, reality capturing, he is an important technology partner for companies like the Austrian geoinformatics specialist rmDATA. Together, VRVis and rmDATA are researching robust digital surveying solutions and reconstruction pipelines that cover the entire reconstruction chain from scan to finished product and derive relevant geometries. The basic principle is the interactive involvement of the human user and the development of sustainable software. In this way, cutting-edge research reaches industry directly and contributes to solving concrete challenges. Attila Szabo is convinced that this is the most important task of computer science in general and visual computing in particular: to make a concrete contribution to society and its further development.
Communication & PRdrobna(at)vrvis.at +43 1 908 98 92 207
Vienna, May 5, 2023