E. Vasileva (2022)

Immersive Visual Analysis of Time-Dependent Multivariate Data Using Virtual Reality

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Master's Thesis (TU Wien)


The prevention of Earth disasters like asteroid collisions is a high priority for many organizations and scientists. Studying possible asteroid deflection options and under- standing the influencing factors should help domain experts create defense strategies and response plans. For exploration purposes, scientists typically use simulations that represent a real-world process over time and are thus an effective way for demonstrating an asteroid impact collision and its after-effects. In this work we use an interactive Virtual Reality (VR) visualization tool to make simulation results comprehensible. Immersive systems like VR are used in different application domains and for multiple purposes, such as entertainment, medical or military training, rehabilitation and mental therapy, visualization, and visual analytics. With the help of VR software and the necessary hardware of immersive systems, realistic images and 3D scenes from the real world can be rendered to create the feeling of full immersion and presence. Based on these considerations, in this work, we develop an interactive visualization tool in VR to support domain experts in studying the properties and features of asteroid impact events for defense purposes. We use time-dependent multivariate Impact simulation data. The implementation requirements are formulated together with domain experts in the form of tasks and represent the main features that the system should include. As a result, the system incorporates a 3D point cloud visualization to illustrate the impact and the data structure and various exploration tools to analyze and examine the point cloud properties. The central tool in the system is called a probe, allowing to measure the characteristics of different regions, compare them, and observe state changes during simulation time. While effective exploration is the primary goal of our system, interactivity is another important factor contributing to achieving a smooth and natural experience. Therefore, we provide various grasping and navigation techniques to support an intuitive and effortless system interaction. As the selection of exploration tools is essential for the domain experts and for solving their tasks, we first evaluate our system with them to answer whether the system is providing the necessary features and is fulfilling their requirements. Another important aspect is the interactivity and usability of our system, which we evaluate through a user study. As we show in our evaluation experiments, our VR system eases the exploration process for scientists. It supports them in finding new and previously undiscovered properties, patterns, and trends in the data.