In-office conCAVE display system provides immersive viewing to interpret complex graphical data

Kitchener 26 April 2000Fakespace Systems Inc. plans to manufacture and market the conCAVE, a new office-scale collaborative visualisation system that provides depth-enhanced perspectives to improve the interpretation of complex volumetric data. The new system, which is based on technology developed by Phillips Petroleum Company and licensed exclusively to Fakespace Systems, can be installed in a 10-ft. x 12-ft. office and is more affordable than large-scale theatre type displays, bringing the benefits of visualisation to researchers and engineers enterprise-wide.


The conCAVE display system, which was shown at the recent annual meeting of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) in New Orleans, comprises a uniquely designed screen - for which a patent application is now pending - with a 50 sq. ft. viewing area and a single high-resolution colour projector. When used with 3D perspective view software, images projected on the smoothly curved surface appear to have real depth in space without the need for special stereoscopic glasses.

Fakespace Systems also announced that Phillips Petroleum's exploration department, which uses the display technology in order to view and interpret geophysical data, plans to purchase and deploy multiple, final production units for offices and for asset team meeting rooms. Alternative potential markets for the new system include medical research, including review and interpretation of medical scans, and organisations visualising volumetric data sets.

"We designed the conCAVE 3D screen and Seismitarium interpretation software to directly address immersive and collaborative visualisation by the geoscientists throughout our worldwide organisation", stated Dennis Neff, Senior Researcher with Phillips Petroleum Company. "Fakespace was our first choice for the commercialisation of this technology, and we are very pleased to partner with them to bring this to the broader visualisation market."

The conCAVE incorporates the four major visualisation screen types utilised today. The dome-shaped top affords overhead views. The curved theatre type mid-section provides views of conventional planar cross sections with up to 25 feet of viewing surface. The flat bottom provides a floor view, even when seated, which is normally obtained only in full-scale immersive room environments. A flat pull-down screen is mounted in front of the display for standard projected images such as maps, cross sections, spreadsheets and presentations. The conCAVE system is designed to fit through a standard door for easy relocation if required.

For true 3D immersive views, the conCAVE display utilises the proprietary Seismitarium software, also developed by Phillips. The Seismitarium API (Application Programming Interface) maps seismic data to the volume and shape of the conCAVE, creating the impression of "standing in the mineshaft" with spatially correct positioning of data above, below and to each side of the viewer.

Even without the API software, the conCAVE's curved screen enhances the depth cues which exist in most 3D imagery. Images that would appear flat on a standard monitor actually appear to have depth and "float in space" in the conCAVE screen area. Because stereoscopic glasses and head-tracking are not required, it is easy for multiple users to share the same view and comfortably collaborate using the conCAVE.

"The conCAVE system enables collaborative visualisation to be more widely available throughout an enterprise", stated Jim Angelillo, vice president of strategic relations at Fakespace Systems Inc. "We're very pleased to work with Phillips Petroleum to offer a lower cost, in-office solution for organisations that need to interpret vast quantities of volumetric data." The conCAVE display system, including a 72-inch wide screen, a 1280 x 1024 pixel high-brightness projector, a pull-down flat screen, and the Seismitarium API software is tentatively priced at $45.000. The system will be available in summer 2000.

More corporate news on Fakespace Systems is available in this issue's article Fakespace Systems to obtain fresh funding and to appoint new board member.

Leslie Versweyveld

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