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Virtual Reality Room Facilitates New Research

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Students experience being on the moon and Mars in Brown Universitys YURT Ultimate Reality Theater.

Brown University's YURT Ultimate Reality Theater features a 360-degree display and the best resolution visible to the human eye.

Credit: Sadie Hope-Gund/Brown Daily Herald

Brown University's YURT Ultimate Reality Theater features a 360-degree display, high pixel density, and crisp resolution, creating images viewable with three-dimensional (3D) glasses, according to Brown professor David Laidlaw. He says the YURT has many possible applications, and already is being used by Brown professor John Cayley to study "ambient poetics" in 3D audiovisual environments.

Brown's Jesse Polhemus says the YURT is meant to be at the very limits of human visual acuity. "If it were any better than it is, you wouldn't even know" because your eyes would not be able to register the difference, Polhemus says. He notes the YURT enables users to manipulate text in a way that is impossible with conventional computers and technical methods.

YURT works best for research in areas with large bodies of data, such as planetary geology, geography, engineering fluid dynamics, and archaeology. The YURT also will be used to facilitate research that examines topics such as the necessity of virtual reality and the value of similar facilities.

The YURT was built with a $2-million U.S. National Science Foundation grant, as well as $500,000 from the university.

From Brown Daily Herald
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