Visualization Techniques in Multiple Working Environments

Interactive Scientific Visualization Techniques in Multiple Working Environments


Project Overview

Visualization tools have proven to help scientists with discovery and confirmation tasks, but the tools are still inadequate for many complicated problems and are not keeping pace with advances in data generation. Furthermore, visualization tools have been optimized, in general, only for conventional desktop displays and interaction devices. This project will advance the state of the art in visualization and user interface design through research and development of novel, human-centered interactive visualization techniques designed for advanced interaction environments such as large display spaces, which allow head-tracked stereo viewing, and multimodal interaction.

Our driving application is a component of the Microbial Cell Project (MCP), a Department of Energy (DOE) program. The goal of the MCP is to understand the complex functioning of a single microbial cell, to use its capabilities for energy production and environmental cleanup. In this project, a set of prototype visualization and interaction tools will be created specifically to address some of the complicated visualization needs of MCP researchers. Our hypothesis is that human-centered environments are superior for complex data analyses, because these environments are significantly more natural and intuitive than a conventional desktop environment.

This project is a collaboration of Brown University with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL). Both sites are developing software for two human-centered environments, located at these institutions: the Cave at Brown University, and the Human Information Workspace (HI-Space) at PNNL. Our goal is to find out about the advantages and disadvantages of these environments when used to solve tasks from the MCP, in comparison to traditional desktop PCs or Fish Tank VR.


A cell data set consists of a stack of slices. The more slices we have, the better the 3D reconstruction.
This is what the reconstructed cell data set looks like in the Cave. It is being displayed together with another data set, which is currently in region of interest viewing mode: the system allows to work with as many data sets as the hardware can handle. Click on the image to see a little movie about how it works (MPEG4 video w/audio, 20MB, requires Quicktime).
We ran our texture hardware based volume rendering approach in the Cave and compared the performance of different numbers of nodes.

Click here to see what interactions the system currently supports in the Cave.


Jürgen Schulze
Andrew Forsberg
Andries van Dam


Human Centered Environments at PNNL
Human Information Workspace (HI-Space)
Microbial Cell Project (MCP)
Genomes to Life Project (GTL)



Jürgen Schulze