philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Virtual Reality in Scientific Visualization

These capabilities provide three main advantages:

  • The ability to quickly sample a data set’s volume without cluttering the visualization
  • The ability to investigate regions not expected to be of interest without penalty
  • The ability to see the relationship between data nearby in space or time without cluttering up the visualization

However, in the section on scientific visualization, we suggested that real-time performance is only one of two requirements of a scientific exploration envi- ronment; the other requirement is a natural, inher- ently three-dimensional, human-conforming interface.


Haptics, the senses of touch and force, have been applied to scientific visualization in virtual reality con- texts in a few laboratory systems [3, 7, 13]. The effec- tiveness of haptics in these research projects indicates that haptics may prove to be a useful data display channel. The immaturity of haptic technology, how- ever, makes it very difficult to implement a haptic dis- play in a general, easily reproducible visualization system.


The use of three-dimensional sound in scientific visu- alization is relatively unexplored but holds promise. Aside from the conventional uses of sound to provide user feedback as to the state of the environment, sound can be used as an additional data display chan- nel. Scalar quantities can be mapped to the frequen- cy, timbre, or amplitude of a sound.

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