Storing data on the surfaces of meshes is somewhat of a pain. It involves unwrapping the surface into a 2D UV layout, which is time consuming and can lead to tricky issues such as seams and packing inefficiencies. I’m sure you know all about it. For this reason, it makes sense to want to switch to some kind of automatic parameterization. Recently PTex has been proposed as a suitable approach for real-time graphics.
Quick idea that I had a few weeks ago regarding raytracing things like AO and potentially GI/FG. The basic observation is that for AO ray tracing you have far more rays than you have triangles, so it really doesn’t make sense that we only focus on spatial paritioning for the triangles. I suspect there’s some bias here because we’re so used to thinking of our rays as travelling around a static scene, so we just kind spatially subdivide the scene without even thinking about it.
Quick idea I’ve had for a while, but likely won’t have time to try out, for getting rid of UV sets once and for all by just looking up textures with a 3D position. Start with a coarse grained 3D hash grid (i.e a hash map of your grid cell coordinates), then each of these cells would represent, say, a 2563 volume texture indexed by your vertex position. For compression (this volume data would be extremely sparse, usually little more than a flat 2D slice through it), it would use 3D Random Access trees (read this if you haven’t heard about primal vs dual subdivision – eye opener for me!), but probably with a higher branching factor to reduce the number of levels required.
It’s been a couple of months since GDC, and I’ve been meaning to do a blog post about the talk I gave there (and if you have membership to the GDC vault you can even see a video). An R-tree is a data structure for spatial indexing that’s optimized for out-of-core scenarios (basically databases). Spatial indexing is used for storing “stuff” in space. For example, a game might store all of the game objects in a spatial index so that we can efficiently query for things like “give me all objects that are within the view frustum”, or “give me all pairs of monsters and exploding barrels within 5m of each other”.