Such data may be the output of numerical simulations, such as fluid flow simulations, or recordings from instruments such as radars, sonar systems and MRI/CT scanners. In many situations, understanding is achieved only by investigating the data manually. The well-documented abilities of the human visual system to identify complex objects and to simultaneously compress and extract key information have proved to be vital when interpreting and analyzing scientific datasets. Hence, scientific visualization has emerged as an indispensable tool in many areas of science. For scientists working with huge data sets, the use of modern visualization techniques can be compared to the astronomer's use of telescopes - a tool to help scientists look for patterns, features, relationships and anomalies in the data that would have remained undiscovered without its use.
FFI has since 1994 made use of advanced visualization techniques to facilitate the analysis and interpretation of data from numerical simulations. FFI was, for instance, one of the first to develop a hardware-accelerated volume rendering application, called Viz, which allowed interactive exploration of volume data. Since then, FFI has continued to develop advanced visualization techniques and visualization software. FFI's research areas include flow visualization, feature-based visualization, topology-based visualization, volume visualization, multi-field visualization, time-dependent visualization and perceptual-based visualization.