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Future Science: ­sing 3D Worlds to Visualize Data

By Associated Press

February 20, 2013

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University of Illinois at Chicago researchers are conducting experiments with CAVE2, a virtual world consisting of eight-foot-high screens and 72 stereoscopic liquid crystal display panels.

"In the next five years, we anticipate using the CAVE to look at really large-scale data to help scientists make sense of that information," says the University of Illinois at Chicago's Jason Leigh, co-inventor of the CAVE2 virtual-reality system. "CAVEs are essentially fantastic lenses for bringing data into focus."

He says the CAVE2 virtual world could change the way doctors are trained and improve patient care, or it could help pharmaceutical researchers model the way new drugs bind to proteins in the human body.

However, the system's size and expense may be barriers to its widespread use, says University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor Henry Fuchs, who predicts smaller technology, such as Google's Internet-connected eyeglasses, will do more to revolutionize medicine than CAVE-type systems. Nevertheless, Fuchs calls CAVE2 a national treasure and others are creating virtual scenarios for testing in the CAVE2, such as a Mars flyover generated from actual U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration data.

From Associated Press
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