Current scientific challenges such as climate change, loss of biodiversity and emerging threats to the public require the management of increasing volumes of information. In particular, the growing capacities of scientific and engineering simulations call for the development of powerful visualisation tools and techniques. Unfortunately, for many research teams, investment in the necessary visualisation facilities is not always justified by the actual usage. The EU-funded project VISIONAIR (Vision advanced infrastructure for research) set out to fill this gap by opening the doors of partner facilities for interested users. With over 24 members across Europe participating, the VISIONAIR network offered facilities for virtual reality, augmented reality and advanced scientific visualisation. Researchers from Europe and around the world were welcome to carry out their work using the capabilities of the common infrastructure. After submitting a successful proposal, researchers were granted physical access to visualisation-dedicated software for free. They were not only given access to top visualisation facilities in Europe, they also received support for creating high-resolution images and transferring them through high-speed networks. 122 projects were supported over the 4 years project duration leading a unique and very high inter-disciplinary experience of visualization and interaction facilities. Project partners maintained an enormous database of visualisation software and models that was available to all users. Software tools ranged from processing filters, converters and readers to fully fledged modellers and visualisation packages. Visualisation virtual services offered support with the visualisation of digital 3D shapes and higher-dimensional geometric models that were possible to analyse and enrich with other data. Researchers also had access to the display technologies, like high dynamic range and holographic displays. By establishing a dedicated visualisation research infrastructure, the VISIONAIR project has facilitated transnational cooperation within the EU. More importantly, the visibility and attractiveness of the European Research Area (ERA) was significantly enhanced within scientific communities around the world.
Visualisation tools, virtual reality, augmented reality, high-speed networks, holographic displays