(Laramie, Wyo.) – Inside the University of Wyoming’s new Energy Innovation Center is much state of the art laboratory equipment to help improve the oil, gas and coal industries, but none are as visual as the utilization of virtual reality.
On the second floor of the EIC is the Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) in the Shell 3-D Visualization Laboratory.
The CAVE is a 10-foot by 10-foot by 10-foot cube with screens on three walls and the floor below. When in the cube, utilizing a special wand and glasses, researchers and students can manipulate data sets and LIDAR scans, and immerse themselves in a 3-D environment.
Diana Hulme, Deputy Director of Research, worked behind the scenes in getting the CAVE to campus. She said the technology cost $2.5 million, and it can tap into the super computer north of Cheyenne for optimum performance.
Hulme said there has been interest from departments across campus as well as from private entities to utilize the CAVE.
“There’s no limit to scale and what you can do,” she said, adding that the Air Force Academy toured the facility recently for the possibility of using it to study people’s reactions in different environments.
Labs in the EIC plan on using the CAVE to better understand rocks and oil/gas reservoirs.
Software technician Nikhil Shetty said the technology helps researchers gain a sense “spacial awareness of the data.” Shetty on Wednesday let reporters try out the technology. While wearing the special glasses, researchers can see data or visualizable data, such as scanned human head, and literally walk around it, pear underneath, move it and dissect it. He also gave a demonstration of a canyon that had been scanned, and how utilizing the technology, researchers can walk into the canyon and get immense detail about the layers of rocks.
For the photos in the story, Shetty utilized images that were camera friendly. While in a detailed 3D mode, the images are difficult to translate with the naked eye.
Read more about the EIC here.
(Click to enlarge. Joshua Scheer photos)