OVRAS | Open Visualization Space


Caltech's Open Visualization Spaces (OVS) is a simple prototype Virtual Reality environment, built to easily enable researchers around Caltech to 'drop' their data into the system, and seamleslly and quickly be able to easily interact and explore their models.

Furthermore, the space the user is immersed in matches the actual physical space, giving a strong sense of presence and stability needed to enable long time extents of productive exploration/analysis/work.

_ about
"A strong sense of presence, ergonomically designed direct-object interaction, and rich but controlled space navigation comes together to create a sustainable working environment that enables scientific work empowered by intuitive 3D visualization."

Interaction can be designed for specfic levels of cognitive involvement. Learned behaviors map well to complex tasks, however they require time and repetition to be mastered. Reflexive and experiential behaviors are not only better suitied for novice users, but should be at the core of most interactions even for expert users in order to maximize efficiency and minimized fatigue.

_ philosophy
Our first major design decision was to use mostly (solely for the most part) a single controller and single button from that controller for most interactions. We currently employ the controllers trigger, as it is not only ergonomically well placed in most VR controllers, but it usually has the most physical presence from all buttons.

We use this button in two different ways: through a simple click, and through a prolonged hold.
+ A single click of the trigger, changes the mode of interaction, reflected by the actual look of the controller inside the virtual reality space. The controller can take the apperance of a pen, a grapple, and even a fishing rod -- used for long distance navigation.

Our second major design restraint is the use of three standarized sizes for displaying the data:

_ Data is automatically placed on a predetermined surface pedestal (or hotspot), resized to fit inside a virtual sphere of 30cm diameter (~1 foot). This is a comfortable size for having the model coexist with a functional workstation, console, or portal/browser.

_ If the model is 'dropped' on the floor, it resizes itself to a fit inside a virtual sphere of 3m diameter (~10 feet). This is a pefect size of collaborative exploration.

_ Finally, if you 'toss' the model out the door, it resizes itself to be 30m tall. A comfortable size to be able to navigate into.

OVS currently supports obj, fbx, csv (connected lines), csv (3d scatter plots), as well as data exported from Google's tiltbrush. We have stablished a clean pipeline between paraview (exporting as ply or csv), blender (exporting as fbx), to OVS (Unity) to be able to quickly adopt a large range of? visualization scenes.

To make data available in OVS, you simply create a folder inside the data filder inside OVS. If your data is comprised of different segments, you will be able to iterate through each segment inside OVS. You have the option (recommended) of creating a text meta file (my_data.META.txt, not to be confused with Unity META files) which can specify information about the dataset, title, source, author; as well as a direct connection to a web portal, or slide deck with info about each segment. Futthermore,,if you have a special arrangement, or would like all segments to be shown, you can script that in your META.txt file as well.

_ data

OVS was developed in Unity, using C#, with SteamVR asset (based on OpenVR) to enable support for most virtual reality setups; as well as the Zen Fulcrum Browser. It currently has been tested on HTC Vive, Samsung Odyssey (Microsoft Mixed Reality), HP Windows Mixed Reality, and Oculus Rift.

_ specs
Videos as featured in BBC Science and CBS News. _ in the news
_ design & development : santiago v lombeyda
_ voice work : ashwini r nayak
_ team
_ george djorgovski
_ jim barry
_ mathieu desbrun
_ collaborators
_ paul sternberg | CALTECH
_ matt thomson | CALTECH
_ jim barry | CALTECH
_ mitch guttman | CALTECH
_ andy thompson | CALTECH
_ larry pratt | WOODSHOLE
_ data courtesy of
_ with support from the CENTER for DATA DRIVEN DISCOVERY
_ with support from MOORE-HUFSTEDLER FUND
_ with donations from HTC VIVE
_ with donations from NVIDIA
_ with donations from LOGITECH
_ acknowledgements