Overview / Introduction
The Portal™ is a completely immersive virtual reality system. It consists of a six sided cube that is suspended above the ground. Each side of the cube (also known as walls) including the floor and the roof act as virtual reality screens. Six High power projectors, project three dimensional images onto the walls. The Portal can accommodate up to 5 people at a time, giving them the illusion of being immersed in a virtual reality world. Because of its high degree of realism, the portal can be used for simulations, analysis of designs, interactions with Santos™ as well as experimental studies.
Figure 1: The Portal™
Current applications include interactive analysis of CAD designs. With advances in CAD technology, realistic renderings of vehicles can be created on the computer. These CAD designs can then be transferred to the Portal where the user is immersed in 3-D geometry of a CAD design, say a tank, which gives the user a visualization of the completed geometry. This capability is unprecedented because it allows the user to experience the feeling of exploring the real world tank without actually building the tank.
Figure 2: Exploring the inside of a tank
Figure 3: Examining the CAD design of a tank
The portal has also been used for medical applications. Two dimensional medical data from CT Scans can be stitched together to form a complete three dimensional rendering of the scans. CT scans are essentially snapshots of different cross sectional slices of the body. A method has been developed to put these snapshots together and interpolate (stitch up) areas that are not captured or incomplete to create a three dimensional object that the user can manipulate, fly around, fly through etc. Imagine being able to explore a lung, fly through it and find a tumor. This has both educational as well as diagnostic implications.
Figure 4: Interaction with a human airway in the Portal™
The Portal has also been used for rendering complete massive environments such as a city. This allows users to literally ‘fly’ around a city and get views from previously inaccessible vantage points in the real world. It is a great test for those who are afraid of heights. One can fly up to the top of a building and literally walk up to the edge of the building and fly off. Virtual humans can also be placed in the virtual city for interaction with real world humans.
Figure 5: The rendering of a city (Osaka, Japan) in the Portal™
3m x 3m x 3m cube with opening door
6 projection walls with ½ inch Plexiglas
Built on a wooden frame with thickness varying from 3- 4 inches
Christie Digital Mirage 2000 (link)
300:1 contrast ratio
SXGA 1280x1024, 16.7 million colors
15kHz to120 Khz horizontal frequency
24Hz to 108 Hz vertical frequency
Base Unit: Dell Precision T7400 Mini-Tower, Quad Core Xeon Proc X5450, 3.00GHz, 2X 6MB L2 Cache,1333MHz
Processor: 2nd Processor, Quad Core Xeon Proc X5450, 3.00GHz, 2X 6MB L2Cache,1333MHz
Memory: 4GB, DDR2 ECC SDRAM Memory 667MHz, 4X1GB, Dell Precision T5400
Monitor (6): Dell UltraSharp 1908FP Flat Panel with Height Adjustable Stand,19.0 Inch VIS
Video Card: nVidia,Quadro FX 5600, 1.5GB dual VGA or DVI
Hard Drive: 300GB 3Gbps SAS, 15K RPM Hard Drive, 3.5 Inch
Hard Drive Controller:C17 All SAS Hard Drives Non- RAID for 4 Hard Drives
Operating System: WINDOWS XP PRO SP2
Anith J Mathai, M.S.
Engineering Team Lead
Center for Computer-Aided Design
111 Engineering Research Facility
Iowa City, IA 52242