Continuum Supports Distributed Scientists in Intensive Collaborative Sessions

Chicago, IL, April 26, 2004 -- Specially equipped rooms in a business headquarters used for conferences and planning, often referred to as war rooms, contain media intended to support or facilitate intense problem solving sessions. While flip-style tablets and white boards have long given way to computer technology and videoconferencing, these rooms remain largely self-contained.

Researchers at University of Illinois at Chicago's Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) have developed a high-tech war room for scientists called the Continuum, where distributed collaborators solve problems assisted by advanced collaboration, computation and visualization technologies backed by PC clusters connected over gigabit networks.

At this year's National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) Private Sector Program Annual Meeting April 26-28, EVL associate professor Jason Leigh and Ph.D. student Allan Spale will demonstrate three core technologies of the Continuum Project- GeoWall, TeraVision and Access Grid.

EVL's Continuum Project aims to develop integrated ubiquitous tools and environments to enhance collaboration. These include interactive stereoscopic displays, multi-site audio/video conferencing, and high-resolution tiled displays.

"We want to understand how to build rooms with walls made of high-resolution displays capable of both stereoscopic and monoscopic projection-allowing scientists and decision makers to see all of their data, all of the time," said Leigh. "We believe display-rich environments are a powerful way to enhance group awareness in distance collaborations. It's something that today's basic video conferencing tools have great difficulty conveying."

Working in a collaborative session between EVL in Chicago, the Technology Research, Education, and Commercialization Center (TRECC) in DuPage County and Beckman Institute in University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), Leigh and Spale will operate two applications, MAEviz and ImmersaView.

MAEviz is an interactive visualization tool for earthquake risk assessment developed by UIUC's Mid-America Earthquake Center (MAE Center) in collaboration with NCSA. ImmersaView is an EVL-developed tool for viewing stereoscopic three-dimensional data sets on the GeoWall, its portable, passive-stereo projection system.

Graphics from MAEviz will be streamed to the collaborators at NCSA and TRECC using EVL's TeraVision, a system for real-time high-resolution graphics distribution. The AccessGrid will provide videocasting as well as a standardized environment for launching collaborative applications such as ImmersaView.

"Our goal with the Continuum Project is to make long-distance partnerships more productive," said Tom Prudhomme, Senior Associate Director of NCSA's Cybercommunities Directorate and the leader of the TRECC project. "Continuum combines the hardware, software, networks and techniques that can enable researchers and knowledge workers to transcend geographic boundaries."

TRECC, located at the DuPage County Airport, is a UIUC program funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and administered by NCSA. It supports innovative research in advanced information technologies and their application for the Navy R&D community. It also provides the DuPage business and education communities access to next-generation technologies and commercialization opportunities.

NCSA's Private Sector Program provides a competitive edge to American companies, allowing them to access the emerging technologies and innovations developed by NCSA and its partners. Through partnerships with leading-edge companies, NCSA ensures that its developments address real-world challenges. The current industrial partners are Allstate, Boeing, Caterpillar, Motorola and Sears.

The NCSA Private Sector Program meeting takes place April 26-28 at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Beckman Institute. <>

Useful links:
Continuum Project: <>
MAEviz: <>
AccessGrid: <>

About Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL)
EVL is an interdisciplinary laboratory offering degrees in computer science and art, and specializing in virtual reality over high-speed networks. Located at the University of Illinois at Chicago, EVL's funded research projects include tele-immersion and collaboration software, the development of viable, scalable, deployable stereo displays, and management of next-generation advanced networking initiatives. For the past several years, EVL has been conducting research in next-generation VR devices, to construct variable resolution and desktop/office-sized displays. See: <>

About National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) NCSA is a national high-performance computing center that develops and deploys cutting-edge computing, networking and information technologies. Located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), NCSA is funded by the National Science Foundation. Additional support comes from the state of Illinois, the University of Illinois, private sector partners and other federal agencies. See: <>

Laura Wolf
Electronic Visualization Laboratory
University of Illinois at Chicago

Trish Barker
National Center for Supercomputing Applications
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign