Research activities are focused on data modelling in the field of multi-dimensional data structures. Data-modelling knowledge is employed by several scientific and technical disciplines that develop it further according to their needs. Origins of the development of individual disciplines differ; nonetheless, the first practical applications of multi-dimensional modelling had not been seen until the 1990s, as the 3D visualisation and visualisation of multi-dimensional data structures were determined by hardware developments (namely graphic cards).
The major driving force pioneering in the development of virtual 3D environments were computer games and 3D computer graphics in general (it should be noted that computer games are still mostly visualised in 2D).
The 3D perspective visualisation, and as the case may be 4D data (if time dimension is included), started to be used by a number of other scientific and technical disciplines to address their needs.
Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems first used 2D vector graphics; the development of 3D (spinning off from CAD) was fully accelerated by the requirements of mechanical and civil engineering with computer-assisted modelling tools (CAM), working with time element of data as well.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) worked with at least two-dimensional information from the very start (regular maps) using 2.5D to model surfaces (the third Z-coordinate of height is a function of coordinates X and Y). Data analysis was possible much earlier than their perspective or 3D visualisation became available; however, data models and formats allowing for complex visualisation of 3D data (namely taken over from CAD) started to appear more frequently as the development of graphical hardware progressed.
While the CAD environment has been used mostly for rather detailed and small areas (machine design; in geo it is used to prepare construction drawings for buildings, premises), it is natural that 3D GIS is focused on larger areas, such as town districts, agglomerations (… up to tools that visualise data depicting, in fact, the entire planet). The cooperation between CAD and civil engineering laid foundations to a discipline that is focused on building’s lifecycle – Building Information Management (BIM). Later, GIS joined forces with the game industry developing virtual environments that make it possible to create landscapes and interact with them – Virtual Geographical Environments (VGE).
Another discipline stemming from mechanical engineering is Rapid Prototyping that initiated development of a number of 3D print technologies.
Multi-dimensional modelling is also used in many other fields of human activity, such as health industry and 3D computer tomography (CT).
The common denominator of all these disciplines is the representation of multi-dimensional reality in virtual world. A suitable set of data representations, models and formats, in which data structures truly reflecting the reality (allowing for a specific experimental framework) are implemented, is required for this purpose.
The team focused on multi-dimensional data modelling in NTIS specializes in modelling for geo sciences in particular; therefore, it covers the field between CAD, GIS, and also BIM and VGE; the team also demonstrates 3D printing experience.