Computer simulations are vital tools for research and development in many scientific fields. While computation can speed up the time to scientific discovery, virtual laboratories, test stands, and visualization environments play a significant role in helping researchers make sense of their data. These tools helped create new methods and research possiblities for scientists and engineers, and all three GCS centres have invested heavily in state-of-the-art visualization faciltiies.
Increasingly powerful supercomputing resources enable researchers to solve massive, complex simulations in shorter amounts of time. By achieving faster results, researchers more efficiently gain insights into their respective research fields. However, as researchers generate increasingly large datasets, they must also find additional tools to understand and efficiently analyze simulation data. In many cases, this is done by converting data into three-dimensional models. All three GCS centres enable fast and efficient, large-scale 3D modelling through their respective “virtual laboratories, which give users access to projection rooms, high-definition large projection screens, and 3D visualization environments.
Virtual reality allows researchers to more intuitively visualize and work with their simulation data. When researchers see their simulation results, they are often able to see any mistakes upon first glance. In the event of issues with his or her simulation,the researcher is then able to quickly make optimizations and alterations. Research groups spanning various disciplines are also able to collectively analyse their data and results.
For example, development engineers working on optimizing the shape of cars to improve aerodynamics—ultimately reducing emissions—must also collaborate with production managers and designers. One scientific challenge brings together differing voices and perspectives who, in turn, often have multiple approaches to solving the problem since each position approaches the problem with different priorities in mind. By using a virtual laboratory, interdisciplinary researchers can collaborate and efficiently implement solutions.
Immersive, 3D visualization environments not only enable researchers to see their simulations in motion, it also enables researchers to move freely around, or even within, the objects they are simulating. From blood cells flowing through blood vessels to large-scale city planning simulations, 3D visualization allows users to directly interact with the technology and get closer to their simulation results.