1. Design-led visualisation of nanomedicines in virtual reality
Nanoparticle drug delivery systems provide the promise of new forms of targeted cancer treatment. These are still at the pre-clinical stage, with scientists trying to determine how successful these drugs are at targeting cancer tumor structures. Medical imaging modalities such as Positron Emission Tomography and Computed Tomography (PET-CT), use 3D volumetric reconstruction to visualise drug uptake in organisms. However, the subsequent post-processed outputs have limited interaction fidelity. The question we explore in this research is whether we can enhance user interaction through design-led real-time immersive visualisation displayed on HTC Vive Head-Mounted Displays (HMD). We also explore, through a prototype, how 3D nanoparticles could be represented in more visually meaningful ways. The project focuses on how carefully-considered aesthetic and design choices such as colour, environment, sound and interface features, can enhance the user experience and comprehension of the 3D data sets.
This interdisciplinary research work is being carried out between the 3D Visualisation Aesthetics Lab (3DVAL) at UNSW Sydney and the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology/Centre for Advanced Imaging at The University of Queensland, Australia. The research explores how VR can be used as a platform to understand and interact with pre-clinical imaging data in an immersive and intuitive manner.
A/Prof Kris Thurecht, University of Queensland
Dr Zach Houston, University of Queensland
Dr Nick Fletcher, University of Queensland
2. Visualisation solutions for complex data sets
New cellular and clinical imaging modalities are capturing data sets in ever-increasing detail and complexity. Such high-fidelity data sets are typically poorly-compatible with interactive real-time visualisation platforms such as virtual and augmented reality, which have limitations on the amount of data that can be processed and displayed per second.
We are developing customised pipelines and rendering tools that overcome many of these limitations to allow real-time, interactive exploration of dense data sets containing millions of data points. These new tools are expected to enhance the science discovery process and education in the areas of medical and clinical sciences, allowing users to explore data at a level of detail that has never-before been possible.
Prof Maria Kavallaris, UNSW
Dr Senthil Arumugam, UNSW
Prof Rob Parton, University of Queensland
3. Multiuser VR and virtual avatars
A key area of investigation for the 3DVAL is multi-user/social virtual reality. Contrary to the narrative of VR as an isolating technology, we believe that it can be used as a powerful tool for communication and collaboration. Shared virtual spaces can break down barriers of distance, physical capability etc., and enable far more intuitive embodied cooperation than has been previously possible. Virtual avatar presence, physicality and modes of interaction are current areas of focus.
Image: Collaborative virtual spaces and avatars enable socially-driven data analysis. Credit: John Bailey, John McGhee (UNSW).