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Open Access Publications from the University of California

VirtualExplorer: A Plugin-Based Virtual Reality Framework


This paper introduces VirtualExplorer, a customizable plugin-based virtual reality framework for immersive scientific data visualization, exploration and geometric modeling. The framework is layered on top of a run-time plugin system and reconfigurable virtual user interface and provides a variety of plugin components. The system provides access to scene-graphbased APIs, including Performer and OpenInventor, direct OpenGL support for visualization of time-critical data as well as collision and generic device managers. Plugins can be loaded, disabled, enabled or unloaded at any time, triggered either through pre-defined events or through an external Python-based interface. The virtual user interface uses pre-defined geometric primitives that can be customized to meet application-specific needs. The entire widget set can be reconfigured dynamically on a per-widget basis or as a whole through a style manager. The system is being developed with a variety of application areas in mind, but its main emphasis is on user-guided data exploration and high-precision engineering design.

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