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Paper: Scientific Visualization of Radio Astronomy Data using Gesture Interaction
Volume: 495, Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems XXIV (ADASS XXIV)
Page: 145
Authors: Mulumba, P.; Gain, J.; Marais, P.; Woudt, P.
Abstract: MeerKAT in South Africa (Meer = More Karoo Array Telescope) will require software to help visualize, interpret and interact with multidimensional data. While visualization of multi-dimensional data is a well explored topic, little work has been published on the design of intuitive interfaces to such systems. More specifically, the use of non-traditional interfaces (such as motion tracking and multi-touch) has not been widely investigated within the context of visualizing astronomy data. We hypothesize that a natural user interface would allow for easier data exploration which would in turn lead to certain kinds of visualizations (volumetric, multidimensional). To this end, we have developed a multi-platform scientific visualization system for FITS spectral data cubes using VTK (Visualization Toolkit) and a natural user interface to explore the interaction between a gesture input device and multidimensional data space. Our system supports visual transformations (translation, rotation and scaling) as well as sub-volume extraction and arbitrary slicing of 3D volumetric data. These tasks were implemented across three prototypes aimed at exploring different interaction strategies: standard (mouse/keyboard) interaction, volumetric gesture tracking (Leap Motion controller) and multi-touch interaction (multi-touch monitor). A Heuristic Evaluation revealed that the volumetric gesture tracking prototype shows great promise for interfacing with the depth component (z-axis) of 3D volumetric space across multiple transformations. However, this is limited by users needing to remember the required gestures. In comparison, the touch-based gesture navigation is typically more familiar to users as these gestures were engineered from standard multi-touch actions. Future work will address a complete usability test to evaluate and compare the different interaction modalities against the different visualization tasks.
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