The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded a Major Research Instrumentation grant in the amount of $450,000 to University of Illinois at Chicago’s Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) to build OmegaTable, a modular multi-sensory touch tabletop for interactive 2D and 3D visual data exploration.
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 zoom-in on interesting phenomena in today’s digital world.”
The resolution of OmegaTable will be at least 24 million pixels, and will have the ability to display 2D and autostereoscopic 3D simultaneously. By incorporating gestural interaction, the OmegaTable will allow users to experience virtual reality without being encumbered with special glasses, hand-held controls, or gloves.
Eight leading domain-science research and education institutions have already expressed interest in testing and adopting OmegaTable, including the Science Museum of Minnesota, the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research at the University of California, San Diego, and the Pacific Rim Applications and Grid Middleware Assembly, to facilitate large-scale collaborations requiring advanced cyberinfrastructure.
“We’re pleased to have this critical NSF funding to construct this next generation device, and a scientific community eager to work with us,” says Leigh. “As is the goal of all of our visualization display technologies, we expect that the OmegaTable will transform science team workflows by providing new and more intuitive ways of seeing and interacting with information.”