Using virtual reality headsets for visualization of voxel-based datasets
3D-scanning techniques such as X-ray computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are capable of delivering detailed three-dimensional data. These data are then usually inspected and analyzed on two-dimensional screens, where depth information can only be approximated through movement and shading. This allows only part of the information to be seen and evaluated, making it more likely for an observer to miss or misinterpret data.
The new VR headsets currently being released for the home entertainment market should be able to provide a more accurate 3D representation. Our research group has purchased an HTC Vive system, and is currently looking for students interested to work on using it to display datasets derived from CT imaging. This will encompass the import of the voxel raster graphics based datasets into a graphics engine capable of displaying on the device. HTC Vive integration has already been implemented in the gaming engines Unity and Unreal Engine 4, alternative engines can also be considered if the corresponding licensing fees are low. Further work will include the implementation of controls to view and explore the datasets interactively, as well as performance optimizations.
A part of this project has been done in 2016 by Yanick Lukic, a student of Willy Kuo at the Interface Group.