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“The #YurtAtBrown hashtag documents a milestone,” says Professor David Laidlaw of Brown University’s Computer Science Department (Brown CS). “2015 will be a landmark year for visualization at Brown and an evolutionary, transformative leap for the field.”
This leads to an obvious question: other than a dwelling of the Central Asian steppes, what is the Yurt? The Yurt (YURT Ultimate Reality Theatre) is the vastly-enhanced successor to Brown’s renowned virtual reality display, the Cave (CAVE™ Automatic Virtual Environment), celebrated for its research, computing, and educational advancements in fields as diverse as archaeology, sculpture, and neuroscience.
“With the Yurt,” David explains, “our design goals were to match or exceed human perceptual abilities in every aspect of virtual reality by eliminating gaps, brightening colors, and increasing resolution. Remember how you felt when your phone’s display jumped to retinal quality? Imagine standing in an entire room at that resolution, with pixels that are too small to see individually. It’s world-class virtual reality. If you improved on any of our specifications, the human eye would almost never be able to detect it.”
As 2014 winds down, the Yurt is ramping up. The main wall is lit, and the software is blending images well, creating a 24’x8’ 56-million-pixel 3D display. As both hardware (doors being hung and protective floor surfaces laid) and software (image alignment, distributed execution, 3D projection, our VRG3D library, and ultimately applications like CavePainting, Cave Writing, and Adviser) come online, Brown CS will chronicle the journey with behind-the-scenes photos, announcements, tweets, and videos that share the exciting progress step by step.
“We hope people of all backgrounds worldwide will journey with us as we head into, through, and beyond 2015,” says David. “This will be our year of experimentation, about pushing the limits. We don’t want you to miss any of it, because every step we take is going to offer new ideas and opportunities that previously didn’t exist. We want thought leaders running their software here, finding the best and highest uses for the Yurt so we can share them with the world. Any field can gain from the Yurt’s capabilities, and there’s nobody who benefits from the arts, sciences, education or other disciplines who won’t someday be impacted. Come join us!”