ParaView in Immersive Environments

Aashish Chaudbury, Bill Sherman, and Nikhil Shetty | Kitware Blog | April 20, 2012

The ubiquity of immersive systems is increasing. The availability of low-cost virtual reality (VR) systems [5] coupled with a growing population of researchers accustomed to newer interface styles makes this an opportune time to help domain science researchers cross the bridge to utilizing immersive interfaces. The next logical step is for scientists, engineers, doctors, etc. to incorporate immersive visualization into their exploration and analysis workflows; however, from past experience, we know that having access to equipment is not sufficient. There are also several software hurdles to overcome. The first hurdle is simply the lack of available usable software. Two other hurdles more specific to immersive visualization are: subdued immersion (e.g. the software might only provide a stereoscopic view, or might provide stereo with simple head tracking but no wand); and lack of integration with existing desktop workflows (e.g. a desktop computational fluid dynamics (CFD) workflow may require data conversions to operate with an immersive tool).

ParaView is a community based, multi-platform, open-source data analysis and visualization tool that scales from laptop to high performance supercomputers. ParaView has gained immense popularity amongst the scientific community as a universal visualization system. Early on we decided to integrate support for immersive environments directly into ParaView, rather than linking to an external library.  We felt that there were sufficient components in ParaView’s design that could be extended to support immersive rendering and interactions, and that limiting dependencies would make our efforts more impactful and sustainable for the long term...