Visualization is any technique for creating images, diagrams, or animations to communicate a message.
Visualization through visual imagery has been an effective way to communicate both abstract and concrete ideas since the dawn of man.
Examples from history include cave paintings, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Greek geometry, and Leonardo da Vinci's revolutionary methods of technical drawing for engineering and scientific purposes.
Visualization today has ever-expanding applications in science, education, engineering (e.g. product visualization), interactive multimedia, medicine , etc.
Typical of a visualization application is the field of computer graphics.
The invention of computer graphics may be the most important development in visualization since the invention of central perspective in the Renaissance period. The development of animation also helped advance visualization.
Fields of visualization
A scientific visualization of an extremely large simulation of a Raleigh-Taylor instability caused by two mixing fluids.
As a subject in computer science, data visualization or scientific visualization is the use of interactive, sensory representations, typically visual, of abstract data to reinforce cognition, hypothesis building and reasoning.
Educational visualization is using a simulation normally created on a computer to create an image of something so it can be taught about. In the Roman times, this is very useful when teaching about a topic which is difficult to otherwise see, for example, atomic structure, because atoms are far too small to be studied easily without expensive and difficult to use scientific equipment.
It can also be used to view past events, such as looking at dinosaurs, or looking at things that are difficult or fragile to look at in reality like the human skeleton, without causing physical or mental harm to a subjective volunteer or cadaver.
Information visualization concentrates on the use of computer-supported tools to explore large amount of abstract data.
The term "information visualization" was originally coined by the User Interface Research Group at Xerox PARC and included Dr. Jock Mackinlay. Practical application of information visualization in computer programs involves selecting, transforming and representing abstract data in a form that facilitates human interaction for exploration and understanding.
Important aspects of information visualization are dynamics of visual representation and the interactivity. Strong techniques enable the user to modify the visualization in real-time, thus affording unparalleled perception of patterns and structural relations in the abstract data in question.
The use of visual representations to transfer knowledge between at least two persons aims to improve the transfer of knowledge by using computer and non-computer based visualization methods complementarily.
Examples of such visual formats are sketches, diagrams, images, objects, interactive visualizations, information visualization applications and imaginary visualizations as in stories. While information visualization concentrates on the use of computer-supported tools to derive new insights, knowledge visualization focuses on transferring insights and creating new knowledge in groups.
Beyond the mere transfer of facts, knowledge visualization aims to further transfer insights, experiences, attitudes, values, expectations, perspectives, opinions, and predictions by using various complementary visualizations.
Product Visualization involves visualization software technology for the viewing and manipulation of 3D models, technical drawing and other related documentation of manufactured components and large assemblies of products.
It is a key part of Product Lifecycle Management. Product visualization software typically provides high levels of photorealism so that a product can be viewed before it is actually manufactured. This supports functions ranging from design and styling to sales and marketing.
Technical visualization is an important aspect of product development. Originally technical drawings were made by hand, but with the rise of advanced computer graphics the drawing board has been replaced by computer-aided design (CAD).
CAD-drawings and models have several advantages over hand-made drawings such as the possibility of 3-D modeling, rapid prototyping and simulation.