Iowa State University: C6
Iowa State University’s Virtual Reality Applications Center (VRAC) discovers new ways to leverage virtual reality, bridging the gap between people and the technology they use to push the boundaries of both science and technology. By creating new tools for research, students and professors create solutions to tough problems in virtual prototyping, computational fluid dynamics, and interactive simulations. The Center provides a way to solve these issues across diverse areas, such as architectural design, manufacturing simulation, and data mining visualization. VRAC’s technology constantly evolves to accommodate new ideas from researchers and students. When VRAC was founded in 1990, the virtual reality technology at the time, such as tethered head mounted displays or partial virtual reality rooms, limited researchers’ feeling of true immersion because of incorporated wires and a lack of complete look around capabilities. VRAC wanted to overcome these limitations and challenges to provide the most immersive, realistic virtual reality environment possible.
In 2000, VRAC and Mechdyne partnered together to create a brand new solution never before seen in North America – a six-sided CAVE with wireless tracking. Called the C6, this technology completely revolutionized immersive virtual reality capabilities. This was the beginning of a long lasting partnership. Over the next six years as technology changed, researchers began to sacrifice a project’s size, speed, realism, or human-computer interaction because the technology was limited on what it could render. In 2006, ISU and Mechdyne again partnered to update the C6 to what is now the highest resolution immersive six-sided environment in the world. What was originally created for vast engineering projects now welcomes fields across the university. Engineers can develop analysis tools, architects see 3D models of buildings or cities, and biologists visualize data from up to 22,000 genes, and kinesiologists measure heart rate and blood pressure to test how humans make decisions and respond in stressful situations.
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