Date: 01 Oct 2008

Virtual Reality-Based Interactive Scientific Visualization Environments

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Abstract

Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) has some production applications (e.g., in vehicle design and psychiatric treatment), but it is often viewed as an expensive, over-hyped technology with insufficient and/or unproven benefit over conventional desktop systems. With steady research progress at many institutions and advances in hardware and software technologies, immersive scientific visualization is another application area in which IVR is having a positive impact and is beginning to attract more attention from the scientific community. At Brown University, we have been researching immersive scientific visualization systems by developing interactive systems with domain scientists in a variety of fields, including archaeology, biology, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), and geoscience. Anecdotal and formal evaluations show the benefits range from mild to very significant – benefits include speeding up and providing broader analysis, greater spatial understanding, enabling new types of exploration, helping in undergraduate as well as graduate courses, and debugging data acquisition methods. In this chapter, we present a number of these systems developed at Brown University and discuss the results of our experimental findings on the efficacy of IVR-based interactive visualization.