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Volume visualization has been widely used for decades for analyzing datasets ranging from 3D medical images to seismic data to paleontological data. Many have proposed using immersive virtual reality (VR) systems to view volume visualizations, and there is anecdotal evidence of the benefits of VR for this purpose. However, there has been very little empirical research exploring the effects of higher levels of immersion for volume visualization, and it is not known how various components of immersion influence the effectiveness of visualization in VR. We conducted a controlled experiment in which we studied the independent and combined effects of three components of immersion (head tracking, field of regard, and stereoscopic rendering) on the effectiveness of visualization tasks with two x-ray microscopic computed tomography datasets. We report significant benefits of analyzing volume data in an environment involving those components of immersion. We find that the benefits do not necessarily require all three components simultaneously, and that the components have variable influence on different task categories. The results of our study improve our understanding of the effects of immersion on perceived and actual task performance, and provide guidance on the choice of display systems to designers seeking to maximize the effectiveness of volume visualization applications.
virtual reality, computerised tomography, data analysis, data visualisation, rendering (computer graphics), immersive virtual reality systems, immersion effect, visual analysis, volume data analysis, volume visualization, 3D medical image, seismic data, paleontological data, immersive VR system, head tracking component, field-of-regard component, stereoscopic rendering component, x-ray microscopic computed tomography dataset, perceived task performance, display system, Three dimensional displays, Data visualization, Mice, Visualization, Rendering (computer graphics), Training, Head, virtual reality., Immersion, micro-CT, data analysis, volume visualization, 3D visualization, CAVE, virtual environments

J. D. Schiffbauer, K. Sensharma, B. Laha and D. A. Bowman, "Effects of Immersion on Visual Analysis of Volume Data," in IEEE Transactions on Visualization & Computer Graphics, vol. 18, no. , pp. 597-606, 2012.
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