Virtual Reality Data Visualization : Concepts, technologies and more
Abstract: Data Visualization (DV) can be seen as an important tool for communication and data analysis. Especially when huge amounts of data are involved, visual representation of data can facilitate observation of trends and patterns as well as understanding. Currently, two dimensional displays are mainly used for Data Visualization, both in two and three dimensions (2D and 3D). However, two dimensional displays are limited in terms of 3D visualization because they do not allow for true sense of depth and do not cover the observer’s full Field Of View (FOV). An alternative approach is to use Virtual Reality (VR), which provides an immersive and interactive 3D environment. VR has been mainly used for gaming and simulated training. However, other areas are now emerging because VR technologies became relatively affordable. For example, one possibility is to explore VR for DV and this was the main goal of this project. To accomplish that, a literature study was performed to identify terminologies and definitions, hardware and software technologies, techniques and examples in the fields of DV and VR. In addition, in order to exemplify DV through VR, a prototype system was implemented using Unity 3D, a leading engine for VR. To visualize the developed VR environment, a HTC Vive Head Mounted Display (HMD) was used. The developed prototype system can display data from a local dataset in a scatter plot with three axis in VR. In the virtual environment created by the system, the user can select the attributes in the dataset to be displayed by the 3D scatter plot. Once the data is plotted, the user can use the handheld joystick to move, rotate, tilt and scale the scatter plot. Achieved results indicate immersion and interaction as the main perceived benefits of DV using VR.
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