Project: Open Data Exploration in Virtual Reality (ODxVR)

The purpose of the ODxVR project is to propose novel interface design approaches that enable interactive visualization of Open Data (OD) within immersive Virtual Reality (VR) environments.

Project information

Project manager
Aris Alissandrakis
Other project members
Nico Reski
Media Technology (Department of Media Technology, Faculty of Technology)

More about the project

The ODxVR project investigates interface design approaches in order to visualize and interact with Open Data (OD) in an immersive Virtual Reality (VR) environment.

The project involves the implementation of different interfaces (incorporating various available hardware technologies and controllers) that enable a user to explore data from open sources either alone, or in a collaborative setting with other users outside the environment. To inform the design of the visualizations, and the development of the data aggregation and processing, we conduct studies to evaluate the user behavior and interaction when using such systems to perform data-related tasks.

A VR application, developed using the Unity3D game engine, is able to visualize different kinds of (open) data, as long as this data is mapped to a specific defined data model. Data items are represented as nodes, which can be explored through interaction inside the VR environment.

A complement application, developed using the creative coding toolkit openFrameworks, presents an overview of the data displayed in the VR environment. Both applications are connected using the OSC (Open Sound Control) protocol. The complement application updates live the position and field of view of the VR user.

Users outside of the VR environment can highlight nodes, which are highlighted also in the VR environment, facilitating communication. Server and database, based on Node.js and MongoDB, provide data and visual structures to both the Unity3D and openFrameworks application.

ODxVR system architecture
Illustration of the architecture of the developed ODxVR system.

The prototype system allows us the investigation of

  1. exploring the interaction with open data in a VR environment,
  2. exploring the interaction between two users, while one is immersed in a VR environment and the other is not, and
  3. comparing different interaction modes (gamepad, vision-based motion controls, room-scale VR) with a unified user interface design.

The prototype utilizes HTC Vive, Oculus Rift CV1, and Leap Motion hardware.

Demo video illustrating some features of the developed ODxVR system.

The project is carried out within the VRxAR Labs research group.

See also the news item Virtual Reality will make Open Data more visible and valuable.