LARAMIE — Digital spelunkers at the University of Wyoming will soon have new frontiers to explore with the arrival of the Wyoming's first CAVE.
The Cave Automatic Virtual Environment allows researchers to view and tour computer models in sometimes life-sized three dimensions. Using a specialized four-sided room that combines high-resolution, stereoscopic projection and 3-D computer graphics, researchers will literally be able to tour their underground models, or whatever they load, on foot. The arrangement gives a more complete sense of presence for users.
"One use of the lab will be the ability to model how oil, gas and water move and interact in the subsurface," said Diana Hulme, deputy director of research at University of Wyoming's School of Energy Resources. "We hope this will lead to new technologies that increase recovery from unconventional reservoirs."
The CAVE, commissioned from and engineered by Iowa-based Mechdyne Corp., will be installed at the new Energy Innovation Center, a LEED-certified building that will be networked to the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputer.
"Rather than viewing data on a small screen in 2-D, researchers can be immersed in a 3-D image created from that data, providing for analysis of a more realistic situation," Hulme said. "We want it to be a campus-wide teaching resource."
The contract was awarded to Mechdyne last October, and the 3-D Visualization Research Lab it will be a part of should be in operation by March after installation begins this month, according to a Mechdyne release.
"The Mechdyne CAVE complements the primary function of the EIC — to help faculty, students and industry experts collaborate and create 'what if' scenarios," said Brent Redman, account manager for Mechdyne. "The CAVE is an amazing tool for discovery. It allows many users to experience a virtual environment at the same time, helping them analyze and interpret a wide variety of spatially related data."
Users of CAVE technologies include universities, scientific research organizations, oil & gas and other energy companies and manufacturing and design organizations. Car designers, for instance, can use it to get a better sense of ergonomics in a life-sized 3-D model of a car that has not yet been modeled physically.
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