21.11.12

Visualisation tool harnesses 416 displays and 1.5bn pixels

A 416 screen, 1.5 billion pixel display is being hailed by its creators at Stony Brook University as the largest immersive display, driven by a graphic supercomputer, ever to be built. The New York education institution unveiled the Reality Deck at its Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT) on November 15.

A sound system, with 22 speakers and four subwoofers, contributes to the feeling of immersion within the four sided display in a 33’ x 19’ x 10’ (10m x 6m x 3m) room with a tiled-display door.

Its primary purpose is to enable scientists, engineers and physicians visualise vast amounts of data and was constructed with a $1.4 million (€1.1 million) National Science Foundation (NSF) grant and a $600,000 match from Stony Brook University.

Arie E. Kaufman, PhD, Distinguished Professor and chair of the Computer Science Department and Chief Scientist of CEWIT, directed the project. He illustrated the display’s capability, saying that the United States population of approximately 300 million people could take a "class photo" from a satellite, and "there would be enough resolution for each person to be depicted in five pixels in colour".

Dr. Kaufman continued: "In the Reality Deck, data is displayed with an unprecedented amount of resolution that saturates the human eye, provides 20/20 vision, and renders traditional panning or zooming motions obsolete. Users just have to walk up to a display in order to resolve the minutiae, while walking back in order to appreciate the context that completely surrounds them."

A 360-degree "smart screen" changes images according to the location of the viewer walking around the Reality Deck. Future applications to stream video in real time are planned.