at RWTH Aachen University!
The Virtual Reality and Immersive Visualization Group started in 1998 as a service team in the RWTH IT Center. Since 2015, we are a research group (Lehr- und Forschungsgebiet) at i12 within the Computer Science Department. Moreover, the Group is a member of the Visual Computing Institute and continues to be an integral part of the RWTH IT Center.
In a unique combination of research, teaching, services, and infrastructure, we provide Virtual Reality technologies and the underlying methodology as a powerful tool for scientific-technological applications.
In terms of basic research, we develop advanced methods and algorithms for multimodal 3D user interfaces and explorative analyses in virtual environments. Furthermore, we focus on application-driven, interdisciplinary research in collaboration with RWTH Aachen institutes, Forschungszentrum Jülich, research institutions worldwide, and partners from business and industry, covering fields like simulation science, production technology, neuroscience, and medicine.
To this end, we are members of / associated with the following institutes and facilities:
Our offices are located in the RWTH IT Center, where we operate one of the largest Virtual Reality labs worldwide. The aixCAVE, a 30 sqm visualization chamber, makes it possible to interactively explore virtual worlds, is open to use by any RWTH Aachen research group.
Cover on the German GI Informatik Spektrum
The cover of the current issue of Informatik Spektrum of the Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. (GI) presents results of a project between the EON Energy Research Center and us on an important issue. The use of air filters in classrooms to fight the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been and continues to be a much-discussed topic. The cover shows a visualization in our aixCAVE, enabling an analysis of the temporal and spatial dynamics of aerosol concentration for each person in the respective room. Virtual reality is proving to be an effective tool for scientists here. It demonstrates the potential risk of aerosol dispersion in enclosed spaces with many people, which can be intuitively experienced even by laypersons.
Additional information on this project is provided in the IT Center Annual Report 2020/2021, page 58f (german only).
|Dec. 16, 2022|
BugWright: Succesful on-site Field Tests
In a nutshell, our EU project BugWright2 deals with the development of semiautonomous robots which are able to inspect and constantly monitor ship hulls of container ships for corrosion. In September, Simon Oehrl and Sebastian Pape travelled with colleagues from University of Trier to Metz, France to test their current implementations on-site. A short travel report is now available online.
|Oct. 11, 2022|
Immersive Art: Our Cooperation with Jana Rusch in Press
Some time ago, the contemporary Belgian painter Jana Rusch approached us to explore our mutual interest in cooperating with her in the area of immersive art. Our colleagues Sevinc Eroglu and Patric Schmitz directly came up with many ideas. Thus, they teamed up with Jana and created Rilievo, a virtual authoring environment for artistic creation in VR, enabling Jana to convert her 2D drawings effortless into 3D volumetric representations while relief sculpting allows volume manipulations. This successful cooperation and the resulting framework have now been presented in the press. Click here for the online article (in German only).
|Oct. 5, 2022|
Ali Can Demiralp presented his research paper on "Performance Assessment of Diffusive Load Balancing for Distributed Particle Advection" during the 30. International Conference in Central Europe on Computer Graphics, Visualization, and Computer Vision 2022 (WSCG2022).
|May 18, 2022|
VHCIE @ IEEE VR 2022
The Virtual Humans and Crowds in Immersive Environments (VHCIE) is a half-day workshop associated with the IEEE VR conference. In 2022, Andrea Bönsch teamed up with colleagues from France to organize the 7th edition of the workshop. During the workshop, her master student Daniel Rupp presented their work-in-progress on "An Embodied Conversational Agent Supporting Scene Exploration by Switching between Guiding and Accompanying", while her colleague Jonathan Ehret presented insights on "Natural Turn-Taking with Embodied Conversational Agents".
|March 12, 2022|
21th ACM International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA21)
Andrea Bönsch presented a paper at the 21th ACM International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents. Additionally, her student David Hashem submitted a GALA video showcasing the respective application of a virtual museum's curator who either guides the user or accompanies the user on his or free exploration. The video won the ACM IVA 2021 GALA Audience Award. Congratulations!
|Sept. 17, 2021|
Enhanced Auditoriums for Attending Talks in Social Virtual Reality
Extended Abstracts of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA ’23)
Replicating traditional auditorium layouts for attending talks in social virtual reality often results in poor visibility of the presentation and a reduced feeling of being there together with others. Motivated by the use case of academic conferences, we therefore propose to display miniature representations of the stage close to the viewers for enhanced presentation visibility as well as group table arrangements for enhanced social co-watching. We conducted an initial user study with 12 participants in groups of three to evaluate the influence of these ideas on audience experience. Our results confirm the hypothesized positive effects of both enhancements and show that their combination was particularly appreciated by audience members. Our results therefore strongly encourage us to rethink conventional auditorium layouts in social virtual reality.
Gaining the High Ground: Teleportation to Mid-Air Targets in Immersive Virtual Environments
IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Most prior teleportation techniques in virtual reality are bound to target positions in the vicinity of selectable scene objects. In this paper, we present three adaptations of the classic teleportation metaphor that enable the user to travel to mid-air targets as well. Inspired by related work on the combination of teleports with virtual rotations, our three techniques differ in the extent to which elevation changes are integrated into the conventional target selection process. Elevation can be specified either simultaneously, as a connected second step, or separately from horizontal movements. A user study with 30 participants indicated a trade-off between the simultaneous method leading to the highest accuracy and the two-step method inducing the lowest task load as well as receiving the highest usability ratings. The separate method was least suitable on its own but could serve as a complement to one of the other approaches. Based on these findings and previous research, we define initial design guidelines for mid-air navigation techniques.
Insite: A Pipeline Enabling In-Transit Visualization and Analysis for Neuronal Network Simulations
ISC High Performance 2022
Neuronal network simulators are central to computational neuroscience, enabling the study of the nervous system through in-silico experiments. Through the utilization of high-performance computing resources, these simulators are capable of simulating increasingly complex and large networks of neurons today. Yet, the increased capabilities introduce a challenge to the analysis and visualization of the simulation results. In this work, we propose a pipeline for in-transit analysis and visualization of data produced by neuronal network simulators. The pipeline is able to couple with simulators, enabling querying, filtering, and merging data from multiple simulation instances. Additionally, the architecture allows user-defined plugins that perform analysis tasks in the pipeline. The pipeline applies traditional REST API paradigms and utilizes data formats such as JSON to provide easy access to the generated data for visualization and further processing. We present and assess the proposed architecture in the context of neuronal network simulations generated by the NEST simulator.