Visual integration: A dynamic approach to the interactive combination of disparate data
This paper explores the practicality and promise of combining the 3D visual output of multiple applications as an alternative to the growing challenges of accessing, merging, and rendering data from different sources. The need for integrating data from multiple sources for the purpose of collaborative visualization has increased in recent years. However, traditional approaches are proving inadequate for several reasons: data size, incompatibility across proprietary file formats, limitations owing to data intellectual property rights, data security, and incompatibility across computing platforms. To address these challenges, this paper explores a simple approach, called Visual Integration (VI), which purposefully limits the exchange of information to only visual artifacts for generating interactive views. VI integrates 3D images from disparate sources in real-time, by comparing the depth information at every combined pixel. VI also preserves independent interactive views of the integrated data for all parties. We report on the design and implementation of a simple prototype created in OpenGL, discuss necessary improvements to create a practical solution, and explore various business scenarios that can benefit from using VI.