Stony Brook University unveiled its latest engineering feat, a 1.5 billion pixel Reality Deck, at a demonstration held at the University’s Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT) this month. Its purpose and primary design principle is to enable scientists, engineers and physicians to tackle modern-age problems that require the visualization of vast amounts of data.
The facility, constructed with a $1.4 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant and a $600,000 match from Stony Brook University, is dubbed as “largest resolution immersive visualization facility ever built”. To simplify that description, Derek Mead at Vice’s Motherboard offers help: “[It's] a fancy way of saying they’ve created a room made up of 416 displays that can display a single, unified image.”
The Deck’s possibilities are seemingly endless.
“This technology will be used for visualizing and analyzing big data,” said Project Director, Arie E. Kaufman, PhD, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Computer Science Department and Chief Scientist of CEWIT, “such as advanced medical imaging, protein visualization, nanotechnology, astronomical exploration, micro tomography, architectural design, reconnaissance, satellite imaging, security, defense, news analyses, climate and weather modeling.”
In particular, a layered flyover of the Northeast Metropolitan region was shown during the facility’s unveiling.
But this Reality Deck is not a result of Stony Brook researchers connecting hundreds of high-resolution monitors together. Instead, the feat is actually an intricate symphony between software, hardware, and construction engineering that immerses the individual in a virtual reality. The subject is surrounded on all four sides–to provide a 20/20 vision–by 1.5 billion pixels of imagery–the first display to exceed one billion pixels (for comparison, your iPhone display has about 153,600). In fact, the Reality Deck is five times larger than the second-largest resolution display in the world.
To illustrate the resolution, Dr. Kaufman said that the entire United States population of approximately 300 million people could take a “class photo” from a satellite, and “there would be enough resolution for each person to be depicted in five pixels in color demonstrating the super-high resolution of the facility.”
“This revolutionary facility will further advance the research impact of Stony Brook University and CEWIT on the national and international research agenda for healthcare, national security, energy research and the STEM disciplines,” said Yacov Shamash, Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Vice President of Economic Development at Stony Brook University. “The Reality Deck will spur medical breakthroughs, groundbreaking new technologies and greater partnerships with industry that will help to create new jobs.”
Dr. Kaufman added, “We’ve never had a way to analyze and display tremendous amounts of data at one time before. This is revolutionary for visual analytics, which is the most powerful and critically important analyses.”
Maxwell is the Coordinator of Digital Engagement for The State University of New York.