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Scalable WIM: Effective Exploration in Large-scale Astrophysical Environments

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3 Author(s)

Navigating through large-scale virtual environments such as simulations of the astrophysical Universe is difficult. The huge spatial range of astronomical models and the dominance of empty space make it hard for users to travel across cosmological scales effectively, and the problem of wayfinding further impedes the user's ability to acquire reliable spatial knowledge of astronomical contexts. We introduce a new technique called the scalable world-in-miniature (WIM) map as a unifying interface to facilitate travel and wayfinding in a virtual environment spanning gigantic spatial scales: power-law spatial seating enables rapid and accurate transitions among widely separated regions; logarithmically mapped miniature spaces offer a global overview mode when the full context is too large; 3D landmarks represented in the WIM are enhanced by scale, positional, and directional cues to augment spatial context awareness; a series of navigation models are incorporated into the scalable WIM to improve the performance of travel tasks posed by the unique characteristics of virtual cosmic exploration. The scalable WIM user interface supports an improved physical navigation experience and assists pragmatic cognitive understanding of a visualization context that incorporates the features of large-scale astronomy

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IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics  (Volume:12 ,  Issue: 5 )