The Fakespace Company already has built a RAVE system for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The four-module reconfigurable system is scheduled to be installed at LANL in January 2000, upon the completion of a new facility in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Robert Gurulé, the team leader for Graphics and Visualisation at LANL, is convinced that RAVE will offer the flexibility to work in a variety of immersive environments, since this is already the second large-scale project for the Laboratory where Fakespace has shown that it can meet LANL's unique requirements.
The RAVE system is based on self-contained modules, which can be used as independent stereoscopic projection display systems, whether in a variety of groupings. Each module features a 10 feet wide by 9.5 feet high rigid rear-projected screen at one end of a 12 feet deep structure that contains one or more projectors. Equipped with air casters, the modules can be raised about one inch off the ground, and one or two people can easily roll the units into different viewing configurations.
It is also possible to equip the modules with an additional projector mounted near the top of the screen, and a retractable mirror system, as to generate an image of up to 12 feet wide on a flooring surface. A three-module system that includes one enhanced module with floor projection, can be configured to create an immersive room environment with images on three walls and the floor, or a 10 x 30 feet flat wall display. The system equally can function as three individual 10 feet wall displays or in a variety of L-shaped or angled immersive theatre configurations.
The four-module LANL system supports additional viewing modalities, such as an enclosed CAVE-like environment, a 20 feet wall with 10 feet returns on either side, or two separate L-shaped alcoves which provide two immersive environments for separate or collaborative projects. Dan Wright, president and chief executive officer of Fakespace Systems Inc. states that the RAVE offers unprecedented flexibility and functionality for organisations which recognise the value of visualisation technology to promote communication, creativity and better understanding of complex data.
A standard RAVE module incorporates an Electrohome Ltd Marquee 9500 Ultra CRT projector. The individual units are designed with sets of adjustable mirrors and lenses to accommodate a variety of different projectors including two side-by-side projectors for passive stereo viewing. Various systems for motion tracking, which can enhance the sense of immersion and improve a user's control of virtual environments, equally may be integrated as optional equipment.
To eliminate interference with tracking devices, the RAVE is built with a non-magnetic structure, reinforced polymers, and optical glass viewing surfaces attached using advanced adhesives. Because the screens are being mounted without frames, the modules push together with practically seamless edges, even in corners or between the wall and floor projections. Every module is available individually, so that an organisation can start with a single, large screen display and extend it to an immersive alcove system by purchasing a second unit.
By adding more modules and floor projection capability, the scale and overall flexibility of the system can be extended to possible amphitheatre or octagon configurations. The screen size and aspect ration can be modified to meet the individual customer requirements. Fakespace recently merged with Pyramid Systems, thus establishing its leadership in both installed base of immersive display systems and breadth of product line. More news on this product family is available in the VMW September 1999 article Fakespace to unveil interactive devices for 3D data manipulation and immersive visualization.