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Principal Investigator David Laidlaw along with co-Principal Investigators Andy van Dam (Computer Science), Jan Hesthaven (Applied Mathematics) and George Karniadakis (Applied Mathematics) were awarded a National Science Foundation MRI (Major Research Infrastructure) research grant, in the expected amount of $2 million, to develop a next-generation interactive virtual-reality display environment for collaborative research and education.

The new system is expected to support more natural and effective interaction with data than the current 3D point-and-click wand driven Cave by maximally utilizing as appropriate full-body, motion-captured user interactions and gestures. More display information will be made accessible to the human visual system with less user effort by matching, or exceeding the perceptual qualities of a modern LCD monitor. An immersive stereo display will be integrated with the perceptual resolution of a desktop display and superior brightness and contrast. Integration of software tools for creating virtual-reality applications quickly will address ease-of-use and reliability. The new tools are expected to be simple, support a spectrum of displays, and provide rich support for gestural interaction.

While educating many students, the instrument is expected to enable new advances in a variety of scientific disciplines. This project, developing a world-class interactive large-field-of-view 95 megapixel immersive virtual-reality environment, aims at creating a novel, demonstrably useful, rich, and expressive interaction, visualization, and analysis that truly leverage the human visual and motor systems in Virtual Reality.