Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rainbow, iron, and gray

Energy2D is our signature software for simulating invisible energy flow in natural and man-made systems. One of its view shows the temperature distribution calculated by the physics engine. This view renders images similar to what an infrared camera shows. Most IR cameras have a few color palettes for the user to choose. So I think we should provide those options in Energy2D, too.

This blog post shows the three color palettes commonly used in IR imagery that were implemented in Energy2D: rainbow, iron, and gray. I guess the IR folks call the second one "iron" because it looks like the color of an iron bar heated to glow.

A criticism of using colorful heat maps to visualize distributions is the possibility of twisting data and therefore creating illusions--because our perception of color does not go linearly with the linear increase of the RGB values. You can compare these three images and see if that is a problem.

I have blogged a lot about how great an inquiry tool IR imaging represents. The resemblance of Energy2D's temperature patterns to IR images indicates a learning possibility of using simulations to deliver some of the nice features that an IR camera gives--before the prices of IR cameras come down to a couple of hundred dollars.

If you would like to show how they look in real simulations, go to Energy2D's home page and explore from there.

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