Volume rendering is a popular visualization technique for scientific computing and medical imaging. By assigning proper transparency, it allows us to see more information inside the volume. However, because volume rendering projects complex 3D structures into the 2D domain, the resultant visualization often suffers from ambiguity and its spatial relationship could be difficult to recognize correctly, especially when the scene or setting is highly transparent. Stereoscopic displays are not the rescue to the problem even though they add an additional dimension which seems helpful for resolving the ambiguity.
This paper proposes a thaumatrope method to enhance 3D understanding with stereoscopic transparency for volume rendering. Our method first generates an additional cue with less spatial ambiguity by using a high opacity setting. To avoid cluttering the actual content, we only select its prominent feature for displaying. By alternating the actual content and the selected feature quickly, the viewer only perceives a whole volume while its spatial understanding has been enhanced. A user study was performed to compare the proposed method with the original stereoscopic volume rendering and the static combination of the actual content and the selected feature using a 3D display. Results show that the proposed thaumatrope approach provides better spatial understanding than compared approaches.