Visionair Newsletter #3 December 2012

VISIONAIR’s Trans National Access (TNA)

Activities: The success continues

VISIONAIR Newsletter Editor’s note

Dear readers,

This is our third VISIONAIR Newsletter. It is devoted to an account of our diverse Trans National Access (TNA) activities. Planning is not always followed by complete plan execution, but in the case of VISIONAIR’s TNA Activities, it is already clear that we have embarked on a highly successful enterprise, and TNA is becoming one of the most distinct highlights of the VISIONAIR Project.

Starting with this newsletter, we will describe several TNA activities that were carried out in recent months across the various VISIONAIR laboratories and centers of excellence. Following a report from Prof. Frederic Noel, VISIONAIR’s Scientific Coordinator, you can read exciting stories on projects that have been completed.

Perhaps the most exciting project is PHREPS: Physical Remote Presence, right after Frederic’s report. All the other projects are also very interesting – I hope you will enjoy reading them and wish you Happy Holidays!

Professor Dov Dori, VISIONAIR Newsletter Editor



VISIONAIR Call for Proposals

VISIONAIR is a European funded infrastructure that grants researchers access to high level visualization facilities and resources. Both physical access and virtual services are offered by the infrastructure, free of charge, based on the excellence of the project submitted. In addition to technical aspects, you take advantage of skills and knowledge of our experienced teams operating the platforms. The access to a facility will include:

•           Training on each specific facility

•           Access to the scientific environment supporting the platform

•           Access to networking environments

•           Scientific and engineering support for specific tasks development

•           Accommodation and logistic support


The current Call for Project leaves the topics open for you to decide based on your needs. Hosting and travel costs are covered by VISIONAIR for eligible applicants. For further information about the Call, please go to:


VISONAIR AND the Trans National Access (TNA) activities

Frédéric Noël

The VISIONAIR infrastructure was initiated in February 2011. The first year of work was dedicated to the organisation of our internal process. In November 2012, VISIONAIR launched its first call for projects. Any researcher from the European community or from any associated country is invited to apply projects, where visualization and interactions methods may help advance a specific step of their research. The research needs not necessarily be focused on visualization, but should require visualisation technologies and equipment.

Trans-national access is a mandatory rule in accepting proposed projects. That means that a project from a country must be operated in another European country facility. VISIONAIR has 29 sub-infrastructure installations distributed over 11 European and associated countries. The resources of the facilities may be visited within our E-Resource map, available from the VISIONAIR Web site. Complementary services with identification of tools dedicated to visualization are available from our Virtual Visualisation System. The VVS system provides also access to a large set of shapes that can be used to prepare virtual scenes needed for the various research projects. With these resources, we support visualisation and interactions processes for scientific visualization, streaming Ultra High Definition videos to and from other networks with very high bandwidth, Virtual Reality applications, and  augmented collaborative environments.

There is currently a permanent call for projects. Projects can be proposed at any time on our web-site. A committee review ensures the selections of the best projects and their association with a dedicated facility.

The first projects started in spring 2012. We have received about 70 proposals, of which  39 have been accepted and several of these have already been completed. This newsletter is dedicated to the presentation of several projects. We hope that you will find interest in using VISIONAIR facilities. The resources exist, they are at your disposal – we hope you will find them attractive and useful for your scientific needs and will propose a project to utilize them to your benefit!

Prof. Frédéric Noël from Grenoble-INP is the Scientific coordinator of VISIONAIR


PHREPS: Physical Remote Presence

Proposer : Sameer Kishore, EventLab, University of Barcelona, Spain

Visited laboratory: University College London (UCL), United Kingdom

Visit Dates : 18 April to 31 April, 2012 and 2 May to 5 May, 2012

Please click to see the fascinating BBC video and read the project description below.

PHREPS, the Physical Remote Presence project, has attempted to develop a platform for virtually and instantaneously transporting visitors – people from one physical location in the world – to a destination, so they can interact with the people and the surroundings there. This is achieved by simultaneously transferring streams of multi-sensory data (audio, visual, haptic) back and forth from one physical place to the other, and using this information to create a unified shared environment that represents the physical space of the destination in real-time. The sensory information of the visitor is streamed to the destination as well, where the visitor is represented in one of a variety of different ways, including a physical robot.

There are several applications for this project, including social interaction and communication between people, remote medical support and rehabilitation, and teaching. One of the examples of the social interaction application that has been developed is called the “Acting” application. This is a form of social interaction between two or more people, which requires the exchange of several layers of sensory information to work correctly.

It involves re-enacting a scene from a specific movie, by professional actors who are physically present in different locations while interacting together in a shared environment. In the current scenario, the actor ‘beams’ from Barcelona to a location in University College London. The people involved are all body-tracked, with their movements and expressions mapped to the various avatars they are embodied in.

Read more


Using Visualization for Fostering and

Assessing Meaningful Learning

Technion Hosting Swiss Educators

Proposer:  Prof. Heinz Bachmann,

Visited laboratories: Enterprise Systems Modeling Laboratory – ESML, Technion; Chemistry teaching Laboratory, Technion

Visit Dates: 10 to 12 September 2012

“As a learning group and teachers we had an intellectually challenging, intensive and enriching experience with teachers and researchers”; “Thank you all for having us and sharing so openly your thoughts on your research, culture and personal life. I didn’t expect to collect so many thought provoking impressions in such a short time”;

These are some of the responses we received from a group of senior lecturers, mainly from Zurich University of Teacher Education, who visited the Technion’s Enterprise Systems Modeling Laboratory )ESML( and the Science Teaching Visualization Laboratory at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology between 10 and 12 September 2012.

Hosted by Prof. Dov Dori, Prof. Judy Dori, and their teams, the visitors included Prof. Heinz Bachmann, Monique Honegger, Yvonne Rajakumar, Rita Tuggener and Franziska Zellweger from Zuerich University of Teacher Education, Gert Christen from HWZ University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration Zurich, and Erni Hanspeter from PHZ, Luzern.

The main purpose of this visit was to study how assessing scientific literacy and higher-order thinking skills in higher education is done in these labs based on distance learning and visualization methods. The visitors shared different cultural and academic approaches about fostering and assessing scientific literacy and higher-order thinking skills in higher education, based on distance and visualized methods. The visit consisted of workshop presentations, in which various research teams presented their projects, followed by professional discussions.

Assessment is a vital component of any teaching and learning process, as we must get feedback on the effectiveness of these educational processes for being able to explain and communicate ideas and knowledge and to foster meaningful learning and teaching.

Read more


VR-GO – Ergonomics in virtual environment

Proposer : Madeleine Pascal, Alboorg University, Denmark

Visited laboratory: INRIA, Rennes, France

Visit Dates : 24 June- 7 July 2012

The objectives of the VR-GO – Ergonomics in virtual environment project are to perform manual handling tasks in both real environment (RE) and virtual environment (VE). More specifically, the effects of VE, without or with force feedback, compared with RE are analyzed in terms of changes in the movement pattern and muscle coordination by means of kinetic, kinematics and multi-channel surface electromyography (EMG) recordings.

The teams included Afshin Samani and Pascal Madeleine, who are with Center for Sensory-Motor Interaction (SMI), Aalborg University, Denmark. Charles Pontonnier, Marwan Badawi, and Georges Dumont are with IRISA/INRIA/ENS Cachan, Campus Universitaire de Beaulieu, Rennes, France.

The research involved sixteen healthy subjects without known neuromuscular disorders or pain, and without previous experience in VR. Their task consisted of grabbing wooden objects from a shelf and passing it through a work panel if it fits, otherwise they have to set it aside on a disposal shelf. Volunteers repeated the task 12 times with six fitting (fitter) objects and six non-fitting (non-fitter) objects. The task was performed at two timing regimes: as fast as possible and time managed.

Read more


SHOCKVIZ: Multiphysics Analysis of Composite


Proposer:  Mojtaba Moatamed, High North Technology Centre, Narvik University College, Norway,

Visited laboratory: THINKlab/USalford, UK

Visit Dates : 8 to 22 July 2012

All problems arising from natural phenomena are in three dimensions of space and one dimension of time, or at least our senses perceive information in these dimensions. In multiphysics simulations, results are often visualised in two dimensions for easier interpretation. This sometimes results in concealing vital information, which may be the key to explaining the physical phenomenon. It is therefore essential to develop visualisation techniques to completely understand the multiphysics simulation in three dimensions.

The main objective of this project is to examine the multiphysics phenomenon of dynamic failure mechanism of composite shell structures subjected to water shock impact loading. The phenomenon is simulated in LS-DYNA® simulation package for shock wave interacting with composite material. The shock wave is modelled using the Arbitrary Lagrangian Eulerian simulation (ALEs) method. The composite is modelled using finite element method (FEM). The interaction between the shock wave and composite material is modelled using fluid-solid interaction (FSI).

Read more


VISH: Evaluating a nested high-resolution

weather model, Harmonie

Proposer:  Seán Óg Delaney, Irish Centre for High End Computing (ICHEC), Ireland Visited laboratory: HLRS/USTUTT, Germany

Visit Dates : 14 to 25 May, 2012

The tasks within this proposal is to convert the multiple data sets from the models and observations, which are on different non-Cartesian grids, to a common reference frame and then compare them. Weather models need ‘scale-selective damping’ at the grid scale to prevent energy buildup at sub-grid scale levels. These need to be examined.

ICHEC is evaluating a 0.5 km grid “mesoscale” weather model, Harmonie, nested within a larger 2.5 km Harmonie model. These, in turn, are coupled with ocean models provided by  Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS), a hydrostatic, 3D, primitive equation, free surface model and Depth Integrated Velocity and Solute Transport (DIVAST), a 2D Finite Difference Model.

Previous efforts of using Harmonie at these scales have led to convective events being “too symmetrical” and “unrealistic”. Hence the proposer needs to explore convective events in both the data sets from LIDAR and models.

Read more


aixCAVE at RWTH Aachen University

The aixCAVE is a five-sided immersive virtual reality environment at the Center for Computing and Communication, RWTH Aachen University. It has been constructed and installed in June 2012 by the Barco N.V. in collaboration with the Virtual Reality Group.

The aixCAVE is located at the Virtual Reality Lab of the Center for Computing and Communication. It is expected to be profitable and extensively used by numerous RWTH institutes and cooperating partners from academia and industry.

Read more



SymmFacad: Interactive Manipulations in 3D

Reconstructed Urban Spaces

Project Proposer : Duygy Ceylan, EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland

Visited laboratory: University College London (UCL), United Kingdom

Visit Dates :26 March to 12 April 2012

3D  reconstruction of urban scenes has a variety of applications such  as: mapping and navigation, urban planning, evacuation planning in emergency situations etc.

Among the many methods proposed to enable accurate reconstruction of urban scenes, image-based methods have gained significant attention due to their easy and inexpensive acquisition process. On the one hand, many challenges arising from different lighting conditions, insufficient textures, and occlusions, are as yet unsolved. On the other hand, an important observation about building and building facades is that repetitions are very common.

Read more


SKETCH-IMA: Sketching the imaginary…

Project Proposer: Laurence Mauderli, Ecole Supérieure d’Art et de Design Reims, France

Visited laboratory: ACE-5-VPCC.DE, Fraunhofer IPK, Insitute for Production Systems and Design Technology, Germany

Visit Dates : 2 July to 13 July 2012

In July 2012 a group of scientists and students from the ESAD École Supérieure d’Art et de Design, Reims, France, conducted a trans-national access project, hosted at the Fraunhofer IPK (Institute for Production System and Design Technology) in Berlin. The broader aim of the project was to explore, use and experiment the immersive sketching technology as developed at the Fraunhofer IPK and to establish a dialogue between design and Virtual Reality thus producing new common knowledge. More specifically, the idea has been to address questions raised by digital craft & design, the cross-pollination between “studio” work and cave production, the actual production and materialisation of the designs.

Read more


Hungarian Academy of Sciences and University of Kaiserslautern working on Joint Research Project

VR Distance Collaboration tool

enabling the connection of two full

immersive systems.

In the scope of a Joint Research Activity (JRA) researcher from MTA SZTAKI, Budapest and University of Kaiserslautern implemented a full working connection between the two CAVE-systems of their home institutes. This connection could be achieved by deploying VirCA (Virtual Reality Collaboration Arena), developed by MTA SZTAKI, at the Kaiserslautern CAVE. The software tool enables the integration of distributed virtual agents to a single, but shared virtual environment.  By using this approach, full interoperable virtual scenes could be built up and shared over internet connection. On the CogInfoCom-conference 2012 a live-demo was provided, highlighting the beneficial features to enable spatially distributed collaboration in the range of mechanical engineering. A typical use-case scenario was built up, involving three interconnected planning parties to analyze and optimize a shop-floor layout problem together.

For any further questions feel free to contact us (; ).



Inauguration of HLRS Annex Building and

HLRS CAVE at University of Stuttgart

The office and research facilities of the High Performance Computing Center Stuttgart (HLRS) were officially opened with a ceremony on Wednesday, October 31, 2012. A newly added two-story expansion complex complements the seven year-old original HLRS-building on the Stuttgart University campus.