A beam tracing method for interactive architectural acoustics

Thomas Funkhouser, Nicolas Tsingos, Ingrid Carlbom, Gary Elko, Mohan Sondhi, James E. West, Gopal Pingali, Patrick Min, Addy Ngan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Scopus citations


A difficult challenge in geometrical acoustic modeling is computing propagation paths from sound sources to receivers fast enough for interactive applications. This paper describes a beam tracing method that enables interactive updates of propagation paths from a stationary source to a moving receiver in large building interiors. During a precomputation phase, convex polyhedral beams traced from the location of each sound source are stored in a "beam tree" representing the regions of space reachable by potential sequences of transmissions, diffractions, and specular reflections at surfaces of a 3D polygonal model. Then, during an interactive phase, the precomputed beam tree(s) are used to generate propagation paths from the source(s) to any receiver location at interactive rates. The key features of this beam tracing method are (1) it scales to support large building environments, (2) it models propagation due to edge diffraction, (3) it finds all propagation paths up to a given termination criterion without exhaustive search or risk of under-sampling, and (4) it updates propagation paths at interactive rates. The method has been demonstrated to work effectively in interactive acoustic design and virtual walkthrough applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)739-756
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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