Virtual Reality (VR) and Visualisation are two areas which are closely intertwined, where Virtual Reality describes the technology and visualisation covers a whole category of application areas, which can profit from that technology.
The term Virtual Reality was originally coined in the late 80s by Jaron Lanier and describes the simulation of an artificial environment by stimulating the user's senses. VR technology combines several aspects of computer graphics, display technology, perceptual psychology as well as concepts known from human computer interaction. Important features are coverage of a large field of view, stereoscopic real-time display, position tracking, and intuitive interaction possibilities. With the help of such an immersive technology the user is able to dive into the virtual environment and is able to interact in an intuitive and natural way. VR does not only cover visual perception, in general it can be applied to all senses.
Visualisation means the enhanced display of complex data sets, in order to make important information contained in the data more easily visible for the human eye. A distinction is drawn between scientific visualisation, where measured or simulated data of spatial phenomena or objects is displayed, and information visualisation, which deals with the display of abstract data sets. Often colour shifts or emphasis of details are used. To create meaningful visualisations a high contrast range and a high resolution are desired.
Typical for VR and visualisation is a very heterogeneous group of users. Application areas can be found in psychology, to fight phobias in virtual environments, in safety training, where incidents in industrial facilities are simulated and trained, in medicine, where MIR or CT data is visualised, in industrial design, where prototypes are evaluated, with the simulation and display of computational fluid dynamics, in the area of art, product presentation, in entertainment and in many other areas.