An Immersive Environment for Exploration of CUBIT Meshes
Pavlakos, Constantine J., Jake S. Jones and Scott A. Mitchell
Proceedings, 6th International Meshing Roundtable, Sandia National Laboratories, pp.47-48, October 1997
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This work partners with Sandia's CUBIT mesh generation research, and explores the use of capabilities developed for Sandia's Multi-dimensional User-oriented Synthetic Environment (MUSE). We have successfully implemented a prototype system for viewing and understanding CUBIT meshes which led one CUBIT developer to comment: "A capability like this on the desktop would increase our productivity by a factor of 4 or 5 for looking at meshes." The system has been linked to CUBIT (using sockets), so, in addition to being able to import meshes from a file, it is possible to import meshes directly from CUBIT, while the meshing system is actively generating a mesh. This further enables mesh editing and/or other feedback while the meshing algorithm is running - to date, we have only begun to explore this aspect by demonstrating the ability to move nodes spatially in the mesh. While the prototype system has been demonstrated with a high-end, equipment-rich VR system, the software is also running on a lower-end desktop system for which we are currently working to enable certain VR features, such as stereo, head-tracking, and use of a space-ball for input. Other current work includes an effort to enhance the system for use with relatively large meshes - the initial prototype worked very well for very small meshes, but experimentation with certain real application meshes has mandated a need to investigate other approaches, particularly of a hierarchical or selective nature, for allowing high-performance manipulation and exploration of such meshes.
Functionality of the prototype system includes: the ability to differentiate between nodes in the mesh which belong to different numbers of elements; the ability to turn on/off mesh edges (i.e. to see only nodes, or nodes and edges); the ability to display node identifiers with the nodes; the ability to highlight specific elements in the mesh for visual scrutiny; the ability to "tether" to (i.e. visually focus attention to) a specific node, which also highlights the edges of all elements which contain the node; the ability to grab and move nodes in the mesh; and the ability to interact with all of these features in a fully stereoscopic environment, supported by advanced human-computer interface capabilities. We are also currently implementing a capability which would enable CUBIT researchers working on the "WhiskerWeaving" algorithm to explore a resulting mesh together with associated sheet diagrams, highlighting certain primaldual relationships. To accommodate larger meshes, we provide a couple-of simplified ways to look at a global mesh space (colored bounding boxes for each element block or display of exterior faces only) together with mechanisms for pickin- -a certain locality for detailed display and scrutiny - for example, one approach uses a movable transparent sphere to select a spherical portion of the global mesh space for detailed display.
Our presentation will include a description of the prototype system, a discussion of lessons learned, and a video segment showing a live session of the prototype in use.
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