Three dimensional flow visualization in virtual reality

Ranbir S. Dhillon, Melissa A. Green

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


The vortex wake of a bio-inspired pitching panel was visualized using a three-dimensional structural model of Q-criterion isosurfaces rendered in Virtual Reality using the HTC Vive. Utilizing the Unity cross-platform gaming engine, a program was developed to allow the user to control and change this model’s position and orientation in three-dimensional space. In addition to controlling the model’s position and orientation, the user can scroll forward and backward in time to analyze the formation and shedding of vortices in the wake. Finally, the user can toggle between different quantities, while keeping the time step constant, to analyze flow parameter relationships at specific times during flow development. Flow visualization is a critical component in the analysis of fluid dynamic data, specifically in the analysis of complex three dimensional flows like those in the wake of a pitching panel. Although many programs already allow the user to view three dimensional models of fluid flows, it is rendered on a two-dimensional screen causing some distortion of the model visualization. By viewing the model in virtual reality, many of the issues associated with the rendering of three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional screen can be solved. As long as the computer system has the capability to produce the model image at a sufficient refresh rate, the visualization in a virtual reality setting could provide vastly more information in a user-friendly way.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication23rd AIAA Computational Fluid Dynamics Conference, 2017
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
ISBN (Print)9781624105067
StatePublished - 2017
Event23rd AIAA Computational Fluid Dynamics Conference, 2017 - Denver, United States
Duration: Jun 5 2017Jun 9 2017

Publication series

Name23rd AIAA Computational Fluid Dynamics Conference, 2017


Other23rd AIAA Computational Fluid Dynamics Conference, 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Aerospace Engineering


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