Van Dam et al.

Van Dam, A., D.H. Laidlaw, and R. Michelle Simpson. 2002. "Experiments in Immersive Virtual Reality for Scientific Visualization." Computers & Graphics 26: 535–555.


    • The authors provide a 'snapshot' of the use of immersive VR (IVR) for scientific visualization, focusing on CAVE-like environments;

    • The article starts with an overview of developments in GUI up to 2002, discussing a slow move away from GIMP, towards SILK, and the arrival of what is nowadays considered 'normal' (i.e. your smart-phone);

    • A particular technology addressed is tele-immersion, a Collaborative Virtual Environment that facilitates collaboration between colleagues in different locations through a digital environment; as well as the Visual Pit, a true to life simulation of depth

    • Problems with IVR in 2002: price/performance not good; niche technologies;

    • Provides results from four analyses of IVR environments: ARCHAVE (analysis of archaeological data from Petra in IVR); Pulsatile blood flow within coronary arteries to investigate damage to blood vessels; brain white-matter visualization; and Mars terrain exploration. Found problems with scale and navigation, and design, particularly with visualizing complexity of multivariable parameters of data objects (e.g. archaeological finds), scale (full scale or miniature), navigation (short/long distances) and maintaining human comprehension throughout. Also issues with quantitative assessment (often difficult and limited to anecdotal investigations) and performance of hardware versus user requirements.

    • No specific notes on software/hardware per sé, but increasing hardware specs for example in HMDs and associated features such as motion/head tracking now (15 years later) seem to have pushed the field beyond some of the issues experienced then. Some issues remain, particularly that of visualizing large datasets in comprehensible manner (though hardware seems better capable of handling these datasets); much remains to be done on design front, as well as exploring and assessing the analytical potential of IVRs.