PORTLAND, Ore. A virtual reality installation sporting 100 million pixels is being touted as offering the world's highest resolution, and could aid medical and military research.
The $4 million upgrade to Iowa State University's "C6" VR room will employ 24 Sony digital projectors to back-illuminate all four walls, floor and celling of the installation.
Operators of the C6 room claimed it was the highest resolution VR installation when it was first unveiled in 2000. Since then, other VR rooms have been built with higher resolution, including a five-sided room recently installed by Fakespace Systems Inc. (Marshalltown, Iowa) and at the at Los Alamos National Laboratories' Strategic Computing Complex. Fakespace worked with Iowa State to upgrade its current C6 installation to regain the highest resolution: 100 million pixels compared to 43 million pixels at Los Alamos.
The six-sided VR room delivers 16 times more pixels than the 2000 version, all housed within a the 10- by 10- by 10-foot room that back-projects 3D computer- generated scenes on walls, floor and ceiling. The images will be generated by a Hewlett-Packard computer with 96 parallel graphics processing units feeding the 24 digital projectors, plus an eight-channel 3D audio system and an ultrasonic motion-tracking system that changes the scene as a user turns his head.
The C6 room will be shared among researchers at Iowa State, including mechanical engineers and architects developing 3D walk-throughs of proposed buildings. Other engineers are working with biologists to create visualization databases for as many as 22,000 genes, enabling researchers to simulate and observe photosynthesis and cell metabolism "from the inside."
Iowa State researchers will also use the VR technology to develop realistic battlefield scenes aimed at improving remote control of unmanned aerial vehicles. The system will provide a birds-eye view of terrain and other aircraft as live data is fed from sensors.
Funding for the C6 upgrade was provide by the Defense Department and the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research.