Daily iPad App: Quaternion Julia Raytracer HD

Mel Martin
M. Martin|09.15.11

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Mel Martin
September 15th, 2011

Of the many things I expected my iPad to do, ray tracing was not one of them. The ability to make realistic looking objects with accurate reflections was originally the domain of high end workstations, but over the years it has migrated down to laptop and desktop class computers.

Now the programmers at Angisoft in Germany have a pretty impressive ray trace app for the iPad. Called, appropriately, Quaternion Julia Raytracer HD, it renders quaternion julia fractals at a reasonably fast clip, and supplies some background images that can provide the reflections on the surface of the 3d object.

What you get is a kind of modern sculpture that can be seen from any angle, and with onscreen settings, you can modify the shape all you want. Of course each change requires another rendering pass, but it only takes a few seconds.

The app also allows you to render in anaglyphic 3D and the image looks great with red/blue glasses if you have some around.

The renderings you produce would make a great iPad desktop or lock screen. The app was stable throughout my testing, and the images that resulted were sharp. A few negatives should be noted. The app should provide for export to mail, some of the social networks, or even saving it to the camera roll. As it is, you have to take a screenshot by holding down the home and power button on the iPad. I'd also like to see the ability to import images of my own to use as a background, rather than be stuck with the 4 images supplied.

Still, I'm impressed to see ray tracing on an iPad. It's not a must-have app, by any means, but I applaud the creativity and it's a great demo. The app is US $1.99, and there is also an iPhone version for $0.99 and a stripped down free iPhone version if you want to give it a try. I've included some screen shots and renderings in the gallery.


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