Visual differences in Enhanced Mode

Enhanced mode exists primarily for performance and efficiency reasons. If bandwidth were free and devices 10 times as powerful as they are today, we probably wouldn't need it.

However, that's not the world we live in - yet.

Therefore, in order to find the best tradeoff between performance and visual fidelity, TPE 3D distinguishes between Flying Mode (i.e. when Enhanced mode is OFF) and Enhanced Mode.

When Enhanced Mode is ON, the following changes are made to the scene:

  • Topography is displayed with a greater level of detail
  • Map tiles are shown at a higher zoom level
  • Shadows are rendered with greater fidelity

The changes in topography and shadow quality can easily be seen by comparing the following two screenshots. Firstly, Enhanced Mode OFF:


And now, Enhanced Mode ON:


Note that the sharpness of the topography has increased (indeed, the higher rate of sampling of elevation data can have the effect of 'pushing up' some of the ridge lines and peaks). Also, the shadows are more sharply defined.

All of this comes at a cost in terms of GPU and CPU required to render the scene. In developing the app, we found that the flying the camera around the scene while enhanced rendering was enabled was problematic on most devices. That's why the camera is at a fixed point in space while Enhanced mode is enabled.

We think this behavior is the best solution for the performance of today's devices relative to the demands TPE 3D places on them - that calculation will almost certainly evolve in the future as processor speeds continue to improve.

Of course, we expect to have higher resolution topography available also, which might well swing the calculation in a different direction!

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