Friday, May 12, 2006

The Most Realistic Virtual Reality Room in the World: Iowa State University

News Service: Iowa State University ::The Most Realistic Virtual Reality Room in the World

The Most Realistic Virtual Reality Room in the World
Iowa State University News Service (05/08/06) Krapfl, Mike

Iowa State University is spending more than $4 million upgrading C6, a hexagonal virtual reality room that will project 100 million pixels, twice the number of pixels illuminating any other virtual reality room in the world. Iowa State opened C6 in 2000 as the first six-sided room in the country that provides an immersive auditory and visual experience, though the equipment has not been updated since. The new equipment will feature a Hewlett-Packard computer with 96 graphics processing units, 24 Sony digital projectors, and an ultrasonic motion tracking application. Supported by a Defense Department appropriation through the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the upgrade began this spring, and is expected to be unveiled in the fall, with a grand opening celebration planned for spring 2007. Iowa State architecture professor Chiu-Shui Chan has used C6 to generate 3D models of buildings and cities, and is exploring the effect that virtual reality could have on urban planning and workplace efficiency testing. The upgrade to the system will help Chan deliver more realistic and interactive models that convey a stronger sense of place than he can with the existing C6 technology. Other researchers are using C6 for visualizations of genes, cell biology, and engineering tools. James Oliver, a professor of mechanical engineering and the director of Iowa State's Virtual Reality Applications Center, is leading a project to develop a virtual reality control room for unmanned aerial military vehicles. Under Oliver's system, a lone operator could control many vehicles by monitoring their surrounding airspace, the terrain over which they are flying, and information taken from instruments, cameras, and radar and weapons systems in the virtual environment. "The idea is to get the right information to the right person at the right time," he said. "We think this kind of large-scale, immersive interface is the only way to develop sophisticated controls."

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