Visualization - What is it?

Matt Dillon

Architecture and Engineering, All, Animation, Rendering, Virtual Reality, Construction, Augmented Reality, Visualization 0 Comment

The word "Visualization" gets used a lot these days, but what does it really mean? It's actually a fairly nebulous term, and can include all kinds of graphic communication tools and methods, from a simple hand-drawn sketch to a full-immersion virtual reality experience, and tons of things somewhere in between. Merriam-Webster defines Visualization as:

  1. 1: the formation of mental visual images
  2. 2:  the act or process of interpreting in visual terms or of putting into visible form
  3. 3:  the process of making an internal organ or part visible by the introduction (as by swallowing) of a radiopaque substance followed by radiography

I think we can all agree that for purposes of building, site and infrastructure or product design we can ignore the third choice, but the first two would definitely apply. We use visualization tools and methods to put a design in visible form and to provide a mental image of something that doesn't exist yet.

But why bother? Visualization, whether it consist of a still image, an animation sequence or an interactive virtual reality or augmented reality presentation, can take a long time and some extensive computing resources to complete. There are as many reasons to utilize visualization techniques as there are techniques themselves - just a few include:

  • Communicate an idea to a non-technical person. Frequently the final decision maker on a project is someone who does not have the ability to interpret a set of 2D plans, sections and elevations sufficiently to understand the design they are being asked to pass judgment on. They need to see it in order to understand it.
  • Sell a product or idea. By creating a mood with a rendering or animation, you can evoke a positive reaction from a potential customer or client.
  • Simulation and Quality Control. Using virtual reality (anything from a panorama to a full immersive environment) you can experience a space or product "virtually" before it is built or fabricated, potentially finding and correcting flaws in your design before they are made manifest in the real world.

Once you've decided to engage in a visualization project, how do you go about getting it done? Do you need a simple still image, an animation, or a virtual reality experience? What technology resources should you use? Do you perform the work yourself, or do you outsource it to someone else?

As a part of Applied Software's introduction of our Visualization Services, we will be publishing a series of posts following this one that explore those questions and more. In the meantime, you can find out more about our visualization services on our website: https://www.asti.com/visualization

Definition of visualization

  1. 1:  formation of mental visual images
  2. 2:  the act or process of interpreting in visual terms or of putting into visible form
  3. 3:  the process of making an internal organ or part visible by the introduction (as by swallowing) of a radiopaque substance followed by radiography