After the LambdaTable unveiled in 2007, the University of Illinois at Chicago's (UIC) Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) will develop the OmegaTable, a new virtual reality display. It will be a modular, multi-sensory touch tabletop for interactive, visual data exploration in 2D and autostereoscopic 3D (3D without special glasses). EVL received a $450K grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop the device. The project will start in September 2008 for a 3-year duration. Like the LambdaTable, the OmegaTable will have a resolution of at least 24 million pixels, but the difference will be in the human computer interface. 'By incorporating gestural interaction, the OmegaTable will finally allow users to experience virtual reality without being encumbered with special glasses, hand-held controls, or gloves.' But read more...
You can see above the LambdaTable, a horizontal tiled display and interface system which is used "to investigate multi-user, multi-modal interaction over a shared visualization 'sand-box' using a variety of physical data manipulation tools." (Credit: EVL) You'll find other pictures of the LambdaTable in this photo gallery.
This project is led at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) by Jason Leigh, one of the directors of EVL and Principal Investigatorfor this work. For this project, he will work with three Co-Principal Investigators, Maxine Brown, Andrew Johnson and Luc Renambot.
So what will these researchers will develop during the next 3 years? "This powerful virtual-reality device will enable scientific communities to view, share and interact with large-scale 2D and 3D data at the same time, and will enable computer scientists to study the integration of multi-sensory touch and gestural interaction techniques for seamlessly manipulating both 2D and 3D data. 'Integrated visualization instruments with powerful computing capabilities are becoming important in domain science because scientists have access to more and more types of electronic data,' says EVL director Jason Leigh. 'These displays are the new microscopes and telescopes, enabling researchers to magnify and zoom-in on interesting phenomena in today's digital world.'"
As mentioned in the introduction, the OmegaTable is not the first interactive tabletop display prototype developed at EVL. The previous one was the LambdaTable, unveiled during Supercomputing 2007. "LambdaTable is a 24-million pixel table-oriented display system built using six LCD displays (tiled in a 2x3 configuration), with each LCD having a resolution twice that of high-definition television. The resolution of OmegaTable will be at least 24 million pixels, and will have the ability to display 2D and autostereoscopic 3D simultaneously."
Even if the EVL news release is focused on the OmegaTable, the NSF Award 0821121 mentions another future device. Its exact title is "Development of OmegaTable and OmegaDesk - Instruments for Interactive Visual Data Exploration and Collaboration."
Here is an excerpt from this document. "Advanced visualization instruments serve as the eyepieces of a telescope or microscope, enabling researchers to view their data in cyberspace, and better manage the increased scale and complexity of accessing and analyzing the data. The OmegaTable and OmegaDesk are such eyepieces. The former supports multiple users sitting or standing around a table, and the latter is a single-user device that will ultimately replace the desk in one?s office. Both unify ultra-high resolution computer-enhanced collaboration workspaces and autostereoscopic virtual environments with multi-touch-sensitive surfaces so that users can intuitively point, write, touch, and manipulate the information displayed, and communicate and share this information with remote colleagues. These instruments act as digital assistants, anticipating and enabling those who work with them, benefiting global scientific collaboratories as well as providing a foundation for new computer science research."
For more information about the LambdaTable, you can read these two documents.
- Lambda Table: High Resolution Tiled Display Table for Interacting with Large Visualizations (PDF format, 7 pages, 6.84 MB), a presentation given at the Workshop for Advanced Collaborative Environments (WACE) 2005, in Redmond, Washington, in August 2005
- A 'Hello World' for the LambdaTable (PDF format, 8 pages, 193 KB), a tutorial by Chris Falk
Sources: Electronic Visualization Lab, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), July 18, 2008; and various websites
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