A new Web-based virtual reality 3D information system could revolutionise we see and interact with our data, according to the computer science experts from Bangor University who have pioneered it.
Their research into Immersive Analytics, undertaken in collaboration with the University of Chester, are far-reaching. They are enabling the immersive presentation and exploration of data insights in scientific research and our everyday lives, all from within a Web browser on desktop, mobile and virtual reality platforms.
VRIA WebXR AR in action
The system created by Dr Panos Ritsos and Dr Peter Butcher of Bangor’s School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering can be used to create computer-generated and data-driven informational layers, which can be seen on top of our physical world, through a smartphone, or a see-through head-mounted display. For example, users can see the energy profile of a property they are about to rent, or the crime data on that street - as computer graphics displayed on top of the house, or the street.
It’s about creating layers of data-driven information, which can be superimposed on our physical world. It can be any kind of data related to a particular space which can then be displayed on the screen and it can be accessed when you’re actually there or remotely.
We’re creating a tool where people can display information in virtual reality when they’re not actually there, or in augmented reality when they are but want the user’s experience to be enhanced by computer-generated information.
Since it was showcased at the world’s biggest data visualisation conference, their work dubbed VRIA - Virtual Reality Immersive Analytics - has been downloaded more than 3,000 times.
Dr Ritsos, who supervised the work, added: “VRIA has been designed to be accessible by novice and expert users. Our work is not so much about applications or uses but rather about creating the technology for others to make use of, and we’ve been working with people as diverse as oceanographers, environmentalists, and health and safety personnel.”
Dr Butcher, the developer behind VRIA, said: “VRIA provides an easily accessible path to those that want to be immersed in their data, and use novel immersive visualization approaches through their Web browser.
“It is particularly effective in a world affected by a pandemic when you can very easily create and use these experiences from home.”
The VRIA Builder
“In the not too distant future, network technologies, such as 5G will make such applications much more pervasive and immersive. We are one of the few universities which works on this cutting-edge technology, alongside organisations such as W3C, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla.”
The VRIA online visualization builder tool is available as a Web service. In addition, it features an application programming interface (API) for more seasoned developers. The source code is also available on Github, a popular repository for collaborative coding.
For more on courses at Bangor University’s School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, click here
Bangor University offers a undergraduate degree (BSc) in Data Science and Visualisation
Postgraduate study in the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering can be viewed here