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01-023
For Release: April 10, 2001

Sally V. Harrington
Media Relations Office
216/433-2037
Sally.V.Harrington@nasa.gov


New Facility at Glenn Is Something To Rave About

The ability of researchers to become completely immersed in an exploration of their data or to realistically simulate how a potential experiment would be performed in space will soon become a reality-a virtual reality-using twenty-first century technology.

A new facility, the Glenn Reconfigurable User Interface and Virtual Reality Exploration Laboratory, known as the GRUVE Lab, which debuted today at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH, will make that possible.

The GRUVE Lab features a RAVE (Reconfigurable Advanced Visualization Environment), which enables the user to be immersed in a virtual environment created through computer imaging. The RAVE consists of three large 8-foot x 8-foot, rear-projection screens housed in large, moveable boxes. Each unit is equipped with air casters and can be raised and rolled into different viewing configurations forming a flat display wall, a panoramic view or a CAVE (CAVE Automated Virtual Environment). The CAVE configuration is achieved when the two outer units are moved inward until they are at a 90° angle to the one in the center. Another projector and retractable mirror is positioned to generate an image on the flooring surface of this 3-sided room.

"The display wall is ideal for displaying large amounts of data where researchers can look up close at small details or step back to see the big picture," said Jay Horowitz, manager of Glenn's GRUVE Lab. "The panoramic view configuration is good for flight simulator-type visualization or for displaying several panels of data and video displays like a virtual control room. The CAVE gives one the sense of being fully immersed in a virtual reality simulation."

Although none of the configurations is unique in itself, what makes Glenn's GRUVE Lab different from most other virtual reality facilities is the ability to reconfigure the RAVE into any of the three positions and do it in a couple of hours. Usually, the CAVE is a fixed configuration with walls that cannot be moved.

"Initially, Glenn engineers and scientists, whose data will be adapted to the RAVE or who are already doing research with universities that have similar technology, will use the GRUVE Lab," said Horowitz. "We foresee supporting a larger range of applications that could include work with local Cleveland businesses and organizations in the areas of education, biomedicine and art."

The GRUVE Lab can be networked to other NASA centers to allow data, voice, and video communication among researchers at the remote sites to "share" the virtual space. Researchers working on a common project would be able to discuss the data they are looking at while pointing out various features to one another and manipulating data to see it from other angles.

The GRUVE Lab uses a Fakespace Systems Inc. RAVE and Silicon Graphics, Inc. graphic supercomputers.

Further information on Glenn's GRUVE Lab is available at: http://gruve.grc.nasa.gov

A print quality image showing someone wearing stereoscopic glasses and using a handheld wand to position a model in the RAVE is available at:    http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/PAO/pressrel/images/GRUVE_Lab.jpg

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