OCTOBER 8--Actuality Systems Inc. (Burlington, MA) has installed its Perspecta spatial visualization platform at the University of Toronto Computer Science Department. The unique 360° display will be used as part of the school's advanced research in human computer interaction and how users will work with the next generation of technology.
"Perspecta addresses one of the big challenges we have with flat displays," said Ravin Balakrishnan of the university's Dynamic Graphics Project lab. "There are all sorts of tools and techniques to help people visualize 3-D data on a standard 2-D display, but in the end, the display is flat. Perspecta is a completely new paradigm."
The Perspecta platform consists of a dome-like spatial display and an application programming interface that enables new application development (see Vision Systems Design, May 2001, p. 17). The system illuminates more than 100 million volume pixels, or "voxels," throughout a full range of 3-D locations within its Lexan dome. This is unlike 3-D displays that require special stereoscopic goggles to simulate multidimensional imagery, or flat-screen monitors that render 3-D data into flat 2-D images. Instead, Perspecta is compatible with a number of visualization software packages, enabling users to render high-resolution spatial images that can be viewed from any angle as the user literally walks around the display.
"We have two real objectives for the system," said Prof. Balakrishnan. "First, we want to explore how the display can be used to better understand 3-D geometric models and to build them in a more intuitive fashion. Second, we want to invent an entirely new interface."
The Perspecta system uses advanced projection technology, based on Digital Light Processing (DLP) products from Texas Instruments. The state-of-the-art projector uses DLP technology and an optical semiconductor with as many as 1.3 million microscopic mirrors to manipulate light digitally and generate a picture with unmatched clarity, brilliance, and color.
Typical applications for the Perspecta platform include drug discovery, such as visualization of protein structures; surgical planning and radiation treatment planning, for doctors working to understand the exact location of a tumor on a CAT scan or mammogram; air-traffic control; game development; and visualizing the contents of freight or passenger luggage.