Researchers enable collaborative, platform-independent image visualization
An international research team has developed a collaborative, web-based, stereoscopic visualization system via multiple platforms, including mobile devices, according to an article published in the October issue of Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Mathias Kaspar, from the Center for Clinical and Research Informatics at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston Ill., and colleagues detailed CoWebViz, which has been used to teach immersive virtual anatomy classes at the University of Chicago.

The remote visualization system can be applied to real-time 3D reconstruction of CT and MRI datasets and overcomes the barriers of client-side rendering and server-side rendering.

According to Kaspar and colleagues, the initial CoWebViz prototype used MJPEG to stream visualizations with fixed JPEG quality and resolution to a client-side web browser without any additional software. The system was tested at University of Chicago, with shared 3D stereoscopic visualization rendered elsewhere on campus and data shared remotely with clinicians, computer scientists and medical students at Cardiff University in Wales.

Since the development of the prototype, the research team has incorporated tools, including shared access that allows each participant to manipulate the visualization collaboratively. In addition, CoWebViz supports multiple visualization formats that can be tailored to various local output devices, such as portable devices, standard monitors or larger scale projection-based stereoscopic set-ups.

CoWebViz incorporates automatic quality adjustments and delay algorithms that allow it to adapt to the constraints of various environments. “With low bandwidth connections, the algorithms retain performance, that is frame rate, with a drop in the streaming image quality. On high bandwidth connections, bandwidth is conserved while frame rate and streaming quality are maximized,” wrote Kaspar et al.

The researchers explained that system can enable two-view stereoscopy for up to four remote participants. It can be used on major operating systems and various processor architectures, including mobile devices. “In addition to the ubiquity enabled by only requiring available web browsers, CoWebViz’s user experience is optimized, without the need for interface controls, by automatically maintaining the best image quality and frame rate for the available network bandwidth at each location, and seamlessly shared control among collaborators.”