A 3D pixel
. Contraction of Volume Element. Imagine aproximating a 3D object to a 3D mesh, and you'll get the idea. If pixels are squares, then voxels are cubes; though people tend to draw them as rectangles to save memory
and time. Used in demos
/ computer games
(eg, Commanche Maximum Overkill
) to display nice landscapes
, and more recently (in Tiberian Sun
and Blade Runner
) for characters and objects. Some people
have said that voxels are the future, since they could represent a truely changable environment, but due to the massive memory requirements, and the fact that they cannot be accelerated
adequitely, this is a long way off. Voxels are used in the scientific community
to represent samples taken in a 3D space in the same way 2D data can be represented as an image.
Addendum: Err... I've just been told that pixels are not squares, and voxels are not cubes... But you get the idea. They are samples taken at a periodic distance. The sample is used to represent a volume with the dimension of that sample distance around the point sampled. Also, there was a story on /. recently (Aug 2000) about a company making high end voxel accelerators, so maybe the time of voxels is closer than we think.