UTS takes big data into 3D with sur­round sound and vi­sion

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - 3D -

Full sen­sory im­mer­sion in the Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy Syd­ney’s new Data Arena is tak­ing re­search dis­cov­ery us­ing big data into new realms of pos­si­bil­ity.

Unique to Aus­tralia and the front run­ner of a lim­ited few other fa­cil­i­ties world-wide, UTS’s Data Arena prom­ises to sim­plify our at­tempts to un­der­stand and ben­e­fit from a vast amount of com­plex and di­verse data col­lected ev­ery day.

UTS Vice-Chan­cel­lor At­tila Brungs said the Data Arena is a fine­ly­tuned mas­ter­piece of in­ter­play­ing com­puter and AV tech­nolo­gies. He said an­a­lysts in many sec­tors could use it to vi­su­alise and ma­nip­u­late data, if not in­deed touch it. If re­quired, tem­per­a­ture vari­a­tions, smell and other sen­sory ef­fects could also be added to en­hance the fa­cil­ity’s im­mer­sive and mul­ti­di­men­sional ex­pe­ri­ence.

“In the mas­sive nu­meric data sets pro­duced by gov­ern­ment, in­dus­try and univer­sity re­search there are pat­terns, trends and in­ter­re­la­tion­ships, with their many im­pli­ca­tions to be dis­cov­ered,” Pro­fes­sor Brungs said. “This fa­cil­ity is break­ing ground both in terms of data vi­su­al­i­sa­tion, ma­nip­u­la­tion com­pre­hen­sion as well as fun­da­men­tal hu­man com­puter/data in­ter­ac­tions.

“UTS is cross­ing tra­di­tional bound­aries of knowl­edge by har­ness­ing new tech­nolo­gies such as the Data Arena. The tech­nol­ogy is so new we don’t know what the lim­its of its po­ten­tial may be, whether for re­search, adding new knowl­edge to what we teach or how we can work in new ways with in­dus­try.

“It’s a bit like in­vent­ing a mi­cro­scope, look­ing into it for the first time and re­al­is­ing tiny life forms ex­ist in a drop of wa­ter. Each time re­searchers and in­dus­try part­ners first ex­pe­ri­ence the Data Arena’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties; new ideas are born about how this new way of see­ing the world can give our re­search max­i­mum im­pact.”

The Data Arena is a 360-de­gree in­ter­ac­tive data vi­su­al­i­sa­tion fa­cil­ity where view­ers stand in the mid­dle of a large cylin­dri­cal screen, four me­tres high and ten me­tres in di­am­e­ter.

A high-per­for­mance com­puter graph­ics sys­tem drives six 3D-stereo video pro­jec­tors, edge-blended to cre­ate a seam­less three-di­men­sional panorama. Pic­ture clar­ity is made pos­si­ble from an im­age that’s 20,000 x 1200 pix­els.

The user ex­pe­ri­ence is made 3D with spe­cial ac­tive-shut­ter glasses that present sep­a­rate left/right views to achieve a stere­o­vi­sual ef­fect. A 16-chan­nel au­dio sys­tem with speak­ers be­hind the 360-de­gree en­clos­ing screen cre­ates a truly sur­round sound to en­hance the vis­ual ef­fects.

Ben Si­mons, lead devel­oper of the Data Arena said the fa­cil­ity lit­er­ally turns num­bers into pic­tures. Si­mons has a long history as a fea­ture film vis­ual ef­fects and an­i­ma­tion in­no­va­tor, work­ing at times with lead­ing edge film mak­ers the likes of An­i­mal Logic.

“As we’re get­ting into big­ger and big­ger data, it be­comes more and more im­por­tant to fig­ure out what we’ve got and what it can tell us,” Mr Si­mons said.

“The way to make sense of all this big data is to vi­su­alise it. The larger the data sets be­come, the harder it is to track changes that may be oc­cur­ring.”

The UTS Data Arena was for­mally opened with an evening re­cep­tion on 21 July. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFBIYp5Q0Jc

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