The University of Tokyo will complete an advanced virtual reality facility in April that is expected to usher in a new era in virtual reality simulations.The facility will allow researchers to position themselves within the same virtual environment as the objects they are studying, allowing them to walk around and manipulate the objects in a three-dimensional world. Images will be projected onto five screens set up on the front, left, right, upper and lower sides of a 2.5-sq.-meter cube situated at the center of the inside of an elevated stand inside the “Intelligent Modeling Lab.” The user enters the cube by climbing up a glass stand.Michitaka Hirose, an associate professor at the university’s school of engineering who developed the facility, said researchers will feel as if they are entering a cave when they go inside the cube. Compared with conventional two-dimensional displays, which are manipulated by keyboards or other pointing devices, the new facility will help researchers get a better feel of reality because of the movement they will be able to acquire inside the simulation, according to Hirose.When researchers wearing 3-D goggles with a liquid crystal device step into the cube, they will feel as if they are floating in space. If a galaxy is simulated, researchers will be able to “view galactic system changes from the center of the galaxy.” Five graphic work stations, connected with superparallel processing computers, make high-speed simulations possible at extremely high resolutions.

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