All posts by Frank Mod

Picture of a server network

Dealing with Big Data

Picture of a server network

Since we’re creating 3D visualizations from large datasets, this raises a very interesting larger question of data management for projects like ours. We (the world at large, and our project in particular) are moving into the era of “Big Data”. As you may know, NSF now requires a data management plan with all proposals (our proposal was submitted prior to this requirement). At the time when we submitted the proposal, I would have said, truthfully, that the data we are using comes from a variety of sources that follow standard archiving and preservation practices, and that we would not duplicate those efforts.
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Panoramic picture of Champlain from ECHO

Lawrence Hall of Science Visits ECHO Lakes Aquarium and Science Center

Designing compelling 3D visualizations and museum demonstrations cannot be accomplished without meaningful connections between project partners. As part of understanding a context and geographic place, two members of the Lawrence Hall of Science, Sherry Hsi and Frank Kusiak, ventured out to Burlington, VT to see Lake Champlain and the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center. Julie Silverman, Molly Loomis, and Phelan Fretz were wonderful hosts as we engaged in a synergistic design process we like to call “walking in each others’ shoes” to build shared understanding and collaboration between project partners. We learned so much from their considerable experience in informal science interpretation and demonstrations about Lake Champlain.

This post is the first of several that will focus on our visit to ECHO. We loved ECHO’s lake public program demos and that’s where we’ll start our account of our visit.

Panoramic picture of Champlain from ECHO
A beautiful morning on ECHO’s deck. You can clearly see New York’s Adirondacks and several islands in Champlain.

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A New Interface for Navigating a 3D Experience

Immersive 3D doesn’t get any better than the KeckCAVES at UC-Davis.  With four projectors that throw a 3D image on 4 surfaces, 3 walls and the floor, the CAVE utilizes a tracking system that can track a single person and change the projection’s point of view based on the user’s orientation. Ensuring this 3D illusion follows your sight line, the tracking system is incorporated into a pair of active shutter 3D glasses.  The effect is both exhilarating and slightly disconcerting (at first).   This is just one of many interface options in the CAVE.

At the the Lawrence Hall of Science, we’re attempting to create a much cheaper version of this experience using a single, commercially available 3D flat screen that uses passive 3D. As we transition to affordable setups, we depend on the expertise of our UC Davis colleagues to help find budget concious and unique interfaces for our limited 3D visualization setup.  Burak, a postdoc at KeckCAVES, introduced us to the Razer Hydra, a dual controller, motion tracking system.  He journeyed down to the Lawrence Hall of Science to set it up(and to give us some new 3D data sets!).

Image of the Hydra Controller
The Hydra controller uses motion tracking to allow someone to interact with a 3D virtual environment.

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Lake Viz 3D Advisory Board

It was a busy three days in May 17 to 19, 2012! The first project advisory board took place during some incredibly clear and mild Spring weather, bringing PIs, staff, and advisors to Davis, California and then Incline Village, Nevada. Advisory board members included Valence Davillier, VP and Director of Exhibits from Cleveland’s Great Lakes Science Center; Joe Atkinson, Director of Great Lakes Program at the University of Buffalo; Tom Moher, a computer/learning scientist from the University of Chicago’s Electronic Visualization Laboratory; Kate Haley-Goldman, evaluation expert at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado; John Baek, an education researcher from NOAA, and Donna Cox (who joined remotely via a networked iPad), Professor, University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Director of the Illinois eDREAM Institute, and Director of Advanced Scientific Visualization Laboratory..

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AR Sandbox Video Getting Noticed

It looks like our AR Sandbox is getting noticed at a popular social media website, Reddit!

21st century sandbox will blow your mind!

Many seem very excited about the technology and many recognize that this was inspired by an earlier Kinect sandbox.  I’ll keep updating this post to see who else picks it up!  Good job Oliver!

Update:  200,000 views!  Wow!  Also, picked up by The Verge

Update 2: 670,000 views!  And was picked up by MSNBC, Huffington Post, Engadget, and Mashable!

Update 3: As of May 11, 2012: 1,289,000 views!