Our long-term goal is to make available an immersive, stereoscopic experience by selling a turn-key system (combining our software with commercial-off-the-shelf hardware) that enables any investigator (expert or student) to directly view and interact with inherently complex time- varying 3D confocal datasets in order to leverage intuitive perceptual and motor skills during scientific analysis. The overarching goal of this project is to help improve basic biomedical research, especially in cellular and developmental biology, by further developing a prototype of our planned software product, FluidVis, and testing its feasibility as a widely accessible immersive visualization tool specificaly for time-varying 3D imagery. Our tool will be modeled after a proven research prototype that has a) been developed through four years of research, b) led to important discoveries missed by conventional methods, and c) for which formal user studies have found it more effective than conventional desktop tools. The model system is used only at one institution because it depends on a fully-immersive "Cave" display which costs millions of dollars to obtain and maintain, and the research software is not user friendly enough for production use. Our basic approach is to substitute the fully-immersive Cave display with a more practical display (less expensive and semi-immersive) that retains the main benefits of the Cave-based system yet is suitable for use in a typical biology laboratory. To achieve our long-term goal, feasibility testin and development are needed. Thus, the central purpose of our Phase I project is to determine the feasibility of making a proven but generally inaccessible new visualization capability (immersive, stereoscopic display) widely accessible to biologists when analyzing time-varying 3D imagery. If Phase I is successful, the central purpose of Phase II project would be to fully-specify, field-test, and make robust and practical to commercial standards the widely accessible version of the new visualization capability.
The research conducted in this project will extend a new immersive visualization tool (FluidVis) that is complementary to commonly used visualization tools for biologists researching cell biology and developmental biology. FluidVis currently supports visualization of static data and the proposed extension will enable data visualization of time-varying data. The proposed work will enable investigators as well as students to directly view and interact with inherently complex time-varying 3D image stacks in order to leverage intuitive perceptual and motor skills during scientific analysis. In particular, FluidVis interactiely renders image stacks for stereoscopic viewing such that complicated spatial relationships and features are much more immediately apparent, and it provides easy-to-use interaction techniques for manipulating the 3D view, changing rendering parameters, and interacting with data analysis widgets.
Our aim i s to make semi-immersive visualization of time-varying confocal datasets widely accessible.