PC Perspective delves into the world of a promising technology called Raytracing. Here's a basic explanation of raytracing:
Raytracing (or ray tracing depending on your preferences): Ray tracing is a general technique from geometrical optics of modeling the path taken by light by following rays of light as they interact with optical surfaces. It is used in the design of optical systems, such as camera lenses, microscopes, telescopes and binoculars. The term is also applied to mean a specific rendering algorithmic approach in 3D computer graphics, where mathematically-modelled visualisations of programmed scenes are produced using a technique which follows rays from the eyepoint outward, rather than originating at the light sources. It produces results similar to ray casting and scanline rendering, but facilitates more advanced optical effects, such as accurate simulations of reflection and refraction, and is still efficient enough to frequently be of practical use when such high quality output is sought.
At the IDF in San Francisco the reporter met up with Daniel Pohl to discuss the development of raytracing.
The benefits of ray tracing are pretty impressive as this banner indicates. Reflections, refractions and shadows can all be recreated to extreme detail that is all dependent on how much processing power you are willing and capable to shove at it. Because the rays reverse-simulate light the details levels can be very impressive, hence ray tracing is the choice of high-end movie makers.
Another interesting point here is the improvement in game development that could occur if ray tracing was accepted. Ray tracing by its nature is very easy to program and is simple to understand from an algorithmic point of view.