Piledotnet: there are many (technical) papers to be found, search google for ‘point cloud rendering’ or ‘point based rendering’.
here’s a site showing some video’s for example:
and another one, this one shows that the technique is interesting for interactive modifications:
moreover, volumetric effects such as clouds are inherently possible with the technique. Just like the buzz now is on unified lighting (think Doom 3), soon enough the focus will be on a unified geometry representation, like points. Carmack once said that’s an important aspect of voxel orcloud representations.
It even runs on pocket pc’s:
Imagine what would be possible if GPU manufacturers concentrated more on this then rasterisation.
there’s even a symposium on it:
some of their papers:
this site shows some complex scenes:
they mention the similarity with true volumetric voxels. Maybe point based rendering will be the death of the poly, as an inbetween step to voxels. On the other hand, all those techniques can of course coexist.
So the general idea is:
“Point based representations have been proposed as an alternative to triangles for 3D surfaces, with a number of advantages. No mesh, or connectivity information has to be stored explicitly. This allows a simple and compact representation, ideal for fast rendering and editing. When combined with advanced rendering techniques such as splatting [ZPvBG01, Pau03], point based surfaces outperform triangle meshes in terms of rendering quality and data storage flexibility.”