CAVE2 immerses scientists and engineers in their research – literally!

With support from the National Science Foundation, computer scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) are pushing science fiction closer to reality with a wraparound virtual world in which a researcher wearing 3D glasses can take a walk through a human brain, fly over the surface of Mars, and more! In the system, known as CAVE2, an 8-foot-high screen encircles the viewer 320 degrees. A panorama of images springs from 72 stereoscopic liquid crystal display panels, conveying a dizzying sense of being able to touch what's not really there.

For the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at UIC, the CAVE2, also known as the Next-Generation CAVE (NG-CAVE), represents the culmination of decades of experience and expertise developing both immersive environments and scalable-resolution tiled display walls, from the room-sized CAVE virtual environment in 1992, to the office-sized ImmersaDesk in 1994, to the GeoWall in 2000, and the more recent ultra-high-resolution LamdaVision tiled-display wall and autostereoscopic Varrier-tiled-display wall.

Each new generation of visualization instrumentation has provided scientific communities with one or more advanced features (higher resolution, unencumbered stereoscopic viewing, multi-Gigabit connectivity, and intuitive user interfaces), better coupling worldwide scientific virtual organizations, and better integrating scientific workplaces with globally distributed cyberinfrastructure.

The CAVE2 is the culmination of EVL's 20+ years of expertise in virtual-reality and tiled display walls, creating a hybrid reality environment that can simultaneously display both 2D and 3D stereoscopic information. The CAVE2 is constructed using near-seamless, passive-stereo, LCD displays rather than traditional projectors. The net effect is a new CAVE2 that has a visual acuity to match human vision, can be scaled to even greater resolution, is affordable compared to projection-based approaches, requires little maintenance, can be fully immersive or can display both 2D and 3D information using EVL-developed software called SAGE (Scalable Adaptive Graphics Environment), and is a true collaborative space that can support multiple viewers. The instrument also opens new opportunities in computer science research at the intersection of large-scale data visualization, human computer interaction, virtual reality, and high-speed networking. CAVE2 data provided by: 

  • American Bridge Company and Fluor Enterprises
  • Argonne National Laboratory
  • European Space Agency
  • Montana State University
  • NASA
  • Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
  • Stone Aerospace
  • University of California, San Diego, Calit2
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • University of Southern California

Provided by the National Science Foundation

Runtime: 2:44

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