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Gefen Helps Create Reality Deck at Stony Brook University, the World’s First 1.5 Billion Pixel Totally Immersive Display of 416 HD LCD Monitors in a Surround Layout


Munich, January 2014 – Members of the Stony Brook University (SBU) Computer Science Department based on Long Island, New York, together with Nelson Engineering, joined forces to design a four-wall surround installation of high resolution LCD displays with real-world immersive capabilities. The project director, Arie Kaufman, and his colleagues have been contemplating such a facility for the past decade. Two years ago they secured the funding to develop and build the Reality Deck, and the decade long dream became a reality.

The goal was relatively simple: tile more than 400 high definition LCD displays along four walls so the user, standing in the room, would have a realistic view of large scale, scientific, computerized data, as if he or she were literally immersed within the data, viewing it from all 360 degree angles.

“It’s really a stunning environment in which the pixel density is sufficiently high to saturate the resolving capabilities of the human eye over a very large working area, which makes the Reality Deck facility particularly suitable for scientific visualization of very big data,” explained Ken Gladky, Director of Operations, Visualization Lab IT Manager, Department of Computer Science (CS) at SBU. “The immersive layout allows us to develop unique user interfaces and to push the boundaries of human-computer interaction.”

Ongoing development of Reality Deck applications happens through collaboration among a number of research groups at SBU, the CS department and outside researchers who contract the Reality Deck facility. Reality Deck is a permanent installation in the Center for Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT) in Stony Brook University’s Research & Development Park.

In developing the immersive visualization display, the team had to combine a number of custom, state-of-the-art systems. “The main challenge came from the sheer number of pixels (1.5 billion) that needed to be generated and transmitted to the individual displays in a reliable and cost-effective way,” said Gladky.

The designers opted for a high density, 18-node GPU cluster with each node driving up to 24 displays at 2560x1440 resolution each. The cluster is also located in a separate, adjacent machine room and required video to be transmitted over cables up to 100 feet in length.

“That’s where Gefen entered the picture,” said Gladky.

The 416 monitors needed to connect to the GPU cluster in the adjacent machine room. “We worked with Gefen to identify what type of cables could be used, and explored both optical and copper options along with the type of connector to be used: dual link DVI or DisplayPort.”

The Reality Deck team selected an assortment of Gefen DisplayPort Extreme Fiber Optic extenders in 75 (23m) and 100 (30m) foot distances. “The physical distance between the monitors and the GPU cluster necessitated a type of video cable that would work perfectly over very long distances,” said Gladky.

In Reality Deck, displays had to support very high video resolutions of 2560x1440 to ensure an absolutely pristine transmission of video with no degradation.

“The long optical DisplayPort cables from Gefen allowed us to design Reality Deck exactly as we had envisioned,” said Gladky. “By extending the displays from the GPU cluster, we significantly lowered the cooling requirements and the noise level for the work area of the facility.”

Now, after a decade of conceptual design and development led by SBU’s Professor Arie Kaufman and his team of computer science professors and engineers, Reality Deck is fully operational. “It is the largest resolution ever built—the second largest resolution is 5 times smaller—and offers the most original visualization platform for large-scale scientific data visualization and for research into novel user interaction methods,” added Gladky. “We are currently working with a dozen internal and external collaborators to develop the next scientific breakthrough, thanks, in part, to Reality Deck.”

About the "Reality Deck" project:

The "Reality Deck" is a unique visualization facility, located at the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (visitor information) of Stony Brook University. Supported by the National Science Foundation and Stony Brook University, the "Reality Deck" is the world´s first immersive gigapixel resolution display, offering more than 1.5 billion pixels. The product of years of research and engineering, the "Reality Deck" facility´s goal is to break barriers in data visualization and help scientists deal with the challenges represented by the massive datasets of today and tomorrow.

(Source: Stony Brook University)

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