Welcome to the Virtual Reality & Immersive Visualization Group
at RWTH Aachen University!

The Virtual Reality and Immersive Visualization Group started in 1998 as a service team in the RWTH IT Center. Since 2015, we are a research group (Lehr- und Forschungsgebiet) at i12 within the Computer Science Department. Moreover, the Group is member of the Visual Computing Institute and continues to be an integral part of the RWTH IT Center.

In a unique combination of research, teaching, services and infrastructure, we provide Virtual Reality technologies and the underlying methodology as a powerful tool for scientific-technological applications.

In terms of basic research, we develop advanced methods and algorithms for multimodal 3D user interfaces and explorative analyses in virtual environments. Furthermore, we focus on application-driven, interdisciplinary research in collaboration with RWTH Aachen institutes, Forschungszentrum Jülich, research institutions worldwide, and partners from business and industry, covering fields like simulation science, production technology, neuroscience, and medicine.

To this end, we are members of / associated with the following institutes and facilities:

Our offices are located in the RWTH IT Center, where we operate one the largest Virtual Reality labs worldwide. The aixCAVE, a 30 sqm visualization chamber, makes it possible to interactively explore virtual worlds, is open to use by any RWTH Aachen research group.

VR in Science and Industry – Successful Event and Announcement of the Network


July 18, 2018

Successful Presentations at ISC'18

At this year's International Supercomputing Conference from June 24 - 28, 2018 in Frankfurt scientists of the JARA-HPC presented latest research results at the exhibition and organized a workshop on In Situ Visualization.


July 17, 2018

Matt Larsen visits our group.

Matt Larsen is a staff scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Oregon in 2016. He is the primary developer for the ASCENT in situ library, as well as a key contributor to the VTK-m library and the VisIt visualization software. Matt's research interests include rendering for visualization, performance modeling for visualization, and many-core architectures.

July 11, 2018

Bernd Hentschel jointly organized a Dagstuhl Seminar on "In Situ Visualization for Computational Science"

Janine Bennett (Sandia National Lab, CA), Hank Childs (University of Oregon), Christoph Garth (TU Kaiserslautern), and Bernd Hentschel jointly organized a Dagstuhl Seminar on "In Situ Visualization for Computational Science". Being held in Schloss Dagstuhl, Germany between 2-6 July, the seminar brought together 39 experts from the fields of computational science, high-performance computing, and large-scale data visualization in order to discuss challenges and research opportunities with respect to highly scalable in situ visualization methods. Over the course of four and a half days, participants discussed a variety of topics in small working groups. The results of these discussions will be disseminated as a Dagstuhl Report, which outlines the current state of the field as well as a mid-term research agenda. Find more info at https://www.dagstuhl.de/de/programm/kalender/semhp/?semnr=18271.

July 2, 2018

Tom Vierjahn jointly organized WOIV’17

Kenneth Moreland (Sandia National Labs, CA), Guido Reina (Univ. Stuttgart), Thomas Theussl (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia), and Tom Vierjahn jointly organized the 3rd "Workshop on in situ visualization: Introduction and Applications” at this year’s ISC in Frankfurt. WOIV provides a venue for speakers to share practical expertise and experience with in situ visualization approaches. This year’s workshop additionally featured approaches that either did not work at all or did not live up to their expectations. It, therefore, provided first-hand reports on lessons learned. A total of 8 paper talks and 4 invited presentation provided participants with current, deep insights into the field. The accepted papers will be published in the ISC Workshop proceedings edition of the Springer Lecture Notes on Computer Science. Find more info at http://www.woiv.org.

June 28, 2018

Bernd Hentschel on International Program Committee of the LDAV'18

Bernd Hentschel serves on the International Program Committee of the IEEE Symposium on Large Data Analysis and Visualization (LDAV'18). Addressing the need for scalable visualization and analysis algorithms, LDAV is a major forum for original work in this area. This year's edition will be co-located to IEEE VIS in Berlin, Germany and will be held on October 21, 2018. Find more info at http://ldav.org/.

June 24, 2018

Recent Publications

Social VR: How Personal Space is Affected by Virtual Agents’ Emotions

Proceedings of the IEEE Virtual Reality Conference, 2018

Personal space (PS), the flexible protective zone maintained around oneself, is a key element of everyday social interactions. It, e.g., affects people's interpersonal distance and is thus largely involved when navigating through social environments. However, the PS is regulated dynamically, its size depends on numerous social and personal characteristics and its violation evokes different levels of discomfort and physiological arousal. Thus, gaining more insight into this phenomenon is important. We contribute to the PS investigations by presenting the results of a controlled experiment in a CAVE, focusing on German males in the age of 18 to 30 years. The PS preferences of 27 participants have been sampled while they were approached by either a single embodied, computer-controlled virtual agent (VA) or by a group of three VAs. In order to investigate the influence of a VA's emotions, we altered their facial expression between angry and happy. Our results indicate that the emotion as well as the number of VAs approaching influence the PS: larger distances are chosen to angry VAs compared to happy ones; single VAs are allowed closer compared to the group. Thus, our study is a foundation for social and behavioral studies investigating PS preferences.


You Spin my Head Right Round: Threshold of Limited Immersion for Rotation Gains in Redirected Walking

IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics

In virtual environments, the space that can be explored by real walking is limited by the size of the tracked area. To enable unimpeded walking through large virtual spaces in small real-world surroundings, redirection techniques are used. These unnoticeably manipulate the user’s virtual walking trajectory. It is important to know how strongly such techniques can be applied without the user noticing the manipulation—or getting cybersick. Previously, this was estimated by measuring a detection threshold (DT) in highly-controlled psychophysical studies, which experimentally isolate the effect but do not aim for perceived immersion in the context of VR applications. While these studies suggest that only relatively low degrees of manipulation are tolerable, we claim that, besides establishing detection thresholds, it is important to know when the user’s immersion breaks. We hypothesize that the degree of unnoticed manipulation is significantly different from the detection threshold when the user is immersed in a task. We conducted three studies: a) to devise an experimental paradigm to measure the threshold of limited immersion (TLI), b) to measure the TLI for slowly decreasing and increasing rotation gains, and c) to establish a baseline of cybersickness for our experimental setup. For rotation gains greater than 1.0, we found that immersion breaks quite late after the gain is detectable. However, for gains lesser than 1.0, some users reported a break of immersion even before established detection thresholds were reached. Apparently, the developed metric measures an additional quality of user experience. This article contributes to the development of effective spatial compression methods by utilizing the break of immersion as a benchmark for redirection techniques.


Interactive Exploration Assistance for Immersive Virtual Environments Based on Object Visibility and Viewpoint Quality

Proceedings of IEEE Virtual Reality Conference 2018

During free exploration of an unknown virtual scene, users often miss important parts, leading to incorrect or incomplete environment knowledge and a potential negative impact on performance in later tasks. This is addressed by wayfinding aids such as compasses, maps, or trails, and automated exploration schemes such as guided tours. However, these approaches either do not actually ensure exploration success or take away control from the user. Therefore, we present an interactive assistance interface to support exploration that guides users to interesting and unvisited parts of the scene upon request, supplementing their own, free exploration. It is based on an automated analysis of object visibility and viewpoint quality and is therefore applicable to a wide range of scenes without human supervision or manual input. In a user study, we found that the approach improves users' knowledge of the environment, leads to a more complete exploration of the scene, and is also subjectively helpful and easy to use.

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