Being Ironman

On the Visualisation Room at the Atlas Building in the Harwell Campus, Srikanth Nagella installed the Avizo VR Module – that allows full tracking and experimented on Tomographic Data:

  • Full immersive 3D interaction;
  • Support for single and multiple screens;
  • Support for single and multi-pipe and for graphic clusters;
  • Flexible customization for specific display geometry;
  • Head-tracking and tracked hand-held 3D input devices;
  • Control functionality via user interface; and
  • Control of 2D user interfaces with 3D devices (virtual mouse).




Restructuring and starting a “new” Visualisation Group

The SCD within STFC is having Away Days in April and collated together with a five year plan for the complete Department. The Visualisation Group has a technology division strategy outline and operational plan but produces a list of future areas of support that include the concept of keeping the Human always within the Visuallsation loop.

Key Activities

The Visualisation Group, part of the Technology Division within SCD, was founded to support and maintain visualisation software and skills for large projects and user communities.

This has included working;

  • with the Hartree Centre hosting their visualisation centres connecting outputs from some of the largest computer in the UK making them human understandable;
  • with the Innovate UK’s Space Application Catapult and European Space Agency (ESA) producing bespoke solutions for their data analytical and command and control needs;
  • creating remote and distance data gathering and visualisation workflows to control the computational processes and
  • providing specialist local high-end equipment within the centres that are near to the main STFC image capturing x-ray, neutron and laser facilities.

Human in the Loop

The group is working to support the high-end visualisation centres within STFC, with the key objective to consider the human-in-the-loop as an integral part to pre- mid- and post-data visualisation needs from the major facilities, from archived data stores and from computational simulations. This it is believed is a key component to increasing the efficiency of the major STFC facilities allowing researchers’ work-plans to be controlled, changed and even stopped on the fly.

The group has an emphasis to work in harmony with collaborators across the STFC mission. To this end there are links to partners;

  • as well as the major imaging facilities (ISIS, Diamond Light Source, and Central Lasers Facility) and the Hartree Centre this includes the
  • Virtual Engineering Centre (University of Liverpool centre based in the Daresbury Labs.),
  • the Harwell Imaging Partnership (based in the RAL campus),
  • the Collaborative Computational Projects (CCPs based across SCD) and a
  • range of Research Council projects with other teams and groups within SCD and STFC.

An image of the initial posters shown here:


Visualisation User Needs Survey

At the end of 2014 we analysed a Visualisation Tools survey for certain HPC and computational users.


The results from over 100 respondents are being edited at:

Executive summary states; for the global survey there were seven key outcome results that can be acted upon:

  • Three packages are the most-used packages by 26% of respondents. Conversely, another 31 packages are used by one or two users and account for a further 26% of respondents.
  • Producing publication quality plots is the most-used technique.
    However, the features making these packages the favourites are:
    – Software that is written specifically for their domain of interest.
    – Large datasets are handled efficiently.
    – Scripting or other ability to extend the tool is required.
  • Users second most favoured packages are general purpose visualisation tools.
  • Users were given five options for selecting their most required development. None emerged as being more needed than the others.
  • Conversely, large amounts of memory was clearly the most important requirement for high performance visualisation.
  • The main future challenges are suggested to be
    – The ability to handle large amounts of data
    – The ability to operate in a distributed environment.

A series of further surveys and follow-up questions are planned as well as afull review next October (2015).