Apr 20, 2009
The Allosphere: an immersive virtual reality system to visualize scientific data
The need for computing tools that allows to visualize, explore and manipulate huge multidimensional data is becoming a key priority in several fields of science and engineering
From this perspective, an interesting possibility is the use of Immersive Virtual Reality. For example, researchers at the California NanoSystem Institute lead by Professor JoAnn Kuchera-Morin have created the AlloSphere, an interactive chamber made of two 5-meter-radius hemispheres of perforated aluminum that are designed to be optically opaque and acoustically transparent.
There are currently two projectors, mounted around the seam between the two hemispheres, approaching eye-limited resolution on the inner surface. The loudspeaker real-time sound synthesis cluster (around 500 individual speaker elements plus sub-woofers) is suspended behind the aluminum screen resulting in 3-D audio. Other clusters include simulation, sensor-array processing, effector-array processing, real-time video processing for motion-capture and visual computing, render-farm/real-time ray-tracing and radiosity cluster, and content and prototyping environments.
You can tour the Allosphere in this stunning video:
Here is an exterior photo of the AlloSphere @ the California Nanosystem Institute