Augmentarium

The Augmentarium was a visualization testbed funded by the National Science Foundation to advance research and scholarship based in virtual and augmented reality. Launched in 2015, the Augmentarium facilitated several distinct and tangible advances in research, education and training. In 2020, the Augmentarium expanded into the Maryland Blended Reality Center.

Augmentarium Leadership

PI: Amitabh Varshney
Co-PIs: Joseph JaJa, Lee Mundy, Catherine Plaisant

Past Augmentarium Projects:

ATMOSPHERIC AND OCEANIC INSTABILITIES

Visual scalability is one of the grand challenges in weather and climate research. The Augmentarium helped to visualize the causative factors behind atmospheric and oceanic processes, and significantly enhanced our ability to study nonlinear dependencies and feedback over multiple scales and attributes, hence improving forecast accuracy.

SIMULATIONS IN FLUID DYNAMICS

Multiscale physics and statistics datasets are required for our work in fluid dynamics of rotorcraft, plasma physics and acoustic scattering. Information discovery is a powerful and significant reduction technique when dealing with these types of large dynamic datasets; it involves identifying features and patterns of interest over the underlying geometry, topology and temporal events. The Augmentarium was ideally suited to provide high-resolution feature details with the necessary lower-resolution context.

SURGICAL INTERVENTIONS AND TRAINING

Imagine a flight simulator for surgeons. By using augmented reality to create an immersive three-dimensional medical environment, we helped to train and assess medical providers on the intellectual and physical abilities needed to take care of patients in an array of settings and situations. Beyond simulation, this technology will transform the practice of medicine, especially in fields like trauma surgery.

VISUALIZATION TECHNIQUES FOR CYBERSECURITY

The Augmentarium allowed us to experiment with various visualization techniques for empowering security analysts who handle large data sets. We built on this expertise to create novel techniques for identifying such rare events in high-volume streams of security telemetry.

BIG DATA IN ASTRONOMY

The Augmentarium served an innovative role in creating a cyber-assisted exploration and discovery environment to study high-level astronomy questions. How do galaxies form and evolve? How do stars and planets form? Is there a strong pre-biotic chemistry in space which could steer the origins of life on planets?

CHARACTERIZING STEM CELL COLONIES

A fundamental research problem in stem cell biology is characterizing a cell’s motility and response to its external environment, which are related to pathologies such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The Augmentarium served as a platform to inspect stem cell colonies at low and high resolutions over time, and to characterize individual colony properties and their mutual interactions in a stem cell culture.


VISUALIZING BIG DATA

Many of today’s critical applications require the real-time processing of multiple streams of data such as text, images, audio, video, meshes, volumes, transactions and metadata. The Augmentarium was used to develop an integrated visual analysis and knowledge discovery system to assist in making sense out of multiple data streams and their relationships for a variety of application domains, including ecological, telecommunication networks, financial networks and social networks.