Our tutor for User Theories class Kieran Nolan organized a surprise tour of the exciting but rarely seen research lab in the Carrolls building called ‘The Cave’. This is an amazing research area cordoned off from the rest of the carrolls building and concealed behind a tall wall, so as such no of us in the class exactly knew what went on behind these walls and could only speculate what we would see on the tour.
In the Cave there was a very hi-tech setup consisting of 3 corner projectors behind 3 wall-screens, projecting content onto the rear of the screens and a 4th projector above the installation projecting down onto the floor. These projectors were capable of projecting hi-def full 3D content, which required the user to wear special 3D glasses equipped with motion-tracking attachments, allowing the motion tracking cameras of the installation to track the users movements and alter the projections accordingly. An accompanying remote controller (similar to an Xbox controller but with motion tracking attachments) allowed the user to navigate through the 3D environment without having to move (its very easy to get immersed in the experience and walk into one of the walls!). As well as this there were 4 extremely powerful computers (once i heard 16Gigabyte RAM i was blown away) connected together along with another home-spec pc, running the whole show. A serious amount of technology to get your head around in one visit.
Sorry for the poor quality of pictures. Yea so this one was a demonstration of how this technology along with webGL software running off a web browser can be used to display webGL-enabled programs such as Google Earth and Street View, to display content across 3 screens, and a 4th projection also possible on the floor (not demonstrated here). It wasn’t in 3D but it did look cool seeing your local street represented in 3 8-foot high projections!
Also as you can see, the computer windows and icons were projected also so it was fun having the sensation of standing inside an operating system (even it was Windows XP!).
These 3 images were of the current project within the cave. A 3D representation of 1 of 18 local purpose-built house’s for the elderly, built to serve the studies of this research project. Each physical house is equipped with extensive motion-sensor technology (in agreement with the house’s occupants), which sends data back to the installation in the cave, giving the researchers a layout of how the occupants use the house, how regularly they use particular spaces and basically they’re living patterns within these houses. This dat can then go towards providing the researchers with an idea of what areas could be improved or adapted in order to enhance the occupants lifestyle and well-being.
For this demonstration however, we were each given 3D glasses and controller, and allowed to explore one of the 3D houses in the installation. It was amazing, i kept finding myself reaching out to grab a chair or the T.V.!
Very dark picture, sorry! Basically, this was another 3D environment of a small forest and wood-cutting spot. A charming little place which i was reluctant to leave
A great experience, which has inspired me and given me some new ideas for the final year project. The lads who work there were great for giving us such a in-depth tour of the installation and explaining how it all works (they could of told me it was magic pixies and i might just of believed them!) but also for giving us further links to look at if we want to look into the technology even more. For example heres two:
Google Liquid Galaxy:
and Chrome Experiments:
A great tour of a facility i now know exists right next door. And thanks to Kieran Nolan for bringing us all to see it!:)