Three-dimensional computer environments have great potential for entertainment, education and simulation of activities that are either too difficult or too expensive to perform in the real world.
However, one problem with computer-based 3D environments is that it is easy to lose track of where you are and where you are going. In his dissertation, Niklas Elmqvist presents new methods designed to help the user effortlessly understand and move through this type of complex 3D environments. This is achieved by taking advantage of the visual cues that we humans normally make use of to perceive our surroundings, such as size, shape, and motion.
Beyond X-ray vision and automatic sightseeing tours, he introduces a method where the user is equipped with a special force field for pushing away objects that get in the way.
Niklas Elmqvist also describes in the dissertation methods for graphically showing a course of events. These methods can be used to trace complex chains of cause and effect for such examples as large computer networks, like the Internet, biological processes, or advanced mathematical problems. The methods have so far been applied to visualization of scientific articles to help show how ideas and trends appear and develop.