Chicago and San Diego Researchers Share in Two IEEE Virtual Reality Awards

Girado and Dynallax
Prototype of Best Paper award-winning Dynallax VR system at EVL in Chicago, with Javier Girado (now at Calit2) at the controls.
San Diego, CA and Chicago, IL, March 16, 2007  -- Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) came away from the IEEE Virtual Reality 2007 conference this week with two major honors: the Best Paper Award; and IEEE's Virtual Reality Technical Achievement Award.

Nine co-authors shared in the Best Paper prize for their work on a brand-new display technology, called Dynallax, which could one day allow more than one person to roam through the same 3D virtual reality (VR) environment without wearing glasses.

Two of the best-paper authors -- Calit2 Director of Visualization Tom DeFanti, and UIC's Daniel Sandin, who now spends one week a month at Calit2 in San Diego -- shared in the VR Technical Achievement Award for their invention of the CAVE® immersive display environment fifteen years ago at UIC's Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL).

Daniel Sandin at VR2007
Dan Sandin, in Charlotte for VR2007, picks up the IEEE Virtual Reality Technical Achievement Award on behalf of Carolina Cruz-Neira, Tom DeFanti and himself, for their development of the CAVE Automatic Virtual Environment.
The IEEE honor recognizes researchers for a "seminal technical achievement in virtual and augmented reality," and the award was bestowed this week at VR2007 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Sandin accepted the award on behalf of himself and DeFanti, with Carolina Cruz-Neira, their EVL graduate student in the 1990s, who is now executive director and chief scientist at the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise. DeFanti and Sandin co-founded and led EVL, and remain directors there.


The CAVE is a projection-based VR system. The multi-person, room-sized, high-resolution 3D video and audio environment was invented at EVL and first demonstrated at SIGGRAPH in 1992. Graphics are projected in stereo onto three walls and the floor, and viewed with active stereo glasses equipped with a location sensor. As the user moves within the display boundaries, the correct perspective is displayed in real-time to achieve a fully immersive experience. Since then, roughly 20 CAVEs have been installed at various sites around the world.

The CAVE system, developed at EVL by a group of researchers who continue to collaborate between EVL and Calit2 in San Diego.
DeFanti -- who remains affiliated with EVL but now spends most of his time at Calit2 in San Diego -- is overseeing construction on an advanced, much-higher-resolution version of CAVE. "When we designed the CAVE originally, the state of the art only allowed us to give viewers a resolution of about three million pixels [megapixels] per eye," said DeFanti. "When this new, 34-projector immersive environment is completed this summer, the resolution will offer ten times more megapixels per eye -- bringing it closer to the effective acuity of human eyesight."

It will be located in the Immersive Visualization Laboratory on the first floor of Atkinson Hall (Calit2's home base at UC San Diego).

The VR Technical Achievement Award, established in 2005, is given annually by the IEEE Computer Society's Visualization and Graphics Technical Committee (VGTC). The group provides technical leadership in the areas of visualization, computer graphics, virtual and augmented reality, and interaction.


In their winning paper* at VR2007, lead author Tom Peterka from EVL and eight co-authors described a no-glasses-needed 3D display technology called Dynallax, which uses a solid-state, dynamic parallax barrier. (A parallax barrier occludes certain regions of an image on a display as seen from each of a person's two eyes, permitting the viewer to see an image in 3D without using 3D glasses.)

Cylindrical Varrier
In late 2006 researchers deployed a 65-panel Cylindrical Varrier Autostereo VR Display system, the largest of its kind in the world. The Calit2 team included (from left) Qian Liu, Jurgen Shulze, Hector Bracho, Larry Smarr, Tom DeFanti, Joe Keefe, Greg Dawe, Dan Sandin, and Javier Girado.
The team developing and testing the Dynallax included Peterka, Robert Kooima, Jinghua Ge, Andrew Johnson and Jason Leigh (all at EVL), as well as Javier Girado (formerly at EVL but now at Calit2), and Jurgen Schulze (at Calit2), plus Tom DeFanti and Dan Sandin.

The Dynallax technology goes beyond the EVL-developed Varrier™, a static barrier display system. It has been built in single-monitor (Personal Varrier) as well as 65-panel Cylindrical Varrier versions (which currently wows visitors to Calit2). "The Varrier technology has a limited range, so the viewer must remain in a 2-by-2-foot 'sweet spot' to get the full 3D effect without wearing glasses," explained Dan Sandin, who pioneered the technique. "By switching to a dynamic barrier, we should be able to increase substantially the range of movement, so you could really walk around in a CAVE-type environment and continue to see everything in 3D without the burden of wearing 3D glasses."

By dynamically controlling the parallax barrier in real time, the Dynallax could produce more than two eye channels -- allowing two viewers to be in the space at the same time with each viewer receiving an independent pair of stereo perspectives based on where they are standing in the space.

According to lead author and Dynallax inventor Peterka, "Dynallax affords more advantages than expanded view distance and two independent tracked viewers. It provides optimal viewing at a variety of view ranges, ameliorates sensitivity to system latency, and switches between 2D and 3D mode on a per-pixel basis, meaning that any combination of mono and stereo content can be arranged on the screen. And these are just the features we have demonstrated so far. With a little imagination, one can foresee multiple modes simultaneously active on a large tiled display composed of Dynallax screens. These can include text documents and powerpoints, 3D monsocopic mode scenes, 3D autostereo single viewer mode scenes, two users interacting with their own perspective of the same scene, two users viewing entirely different scenes in the same screen region (in mono or autostereo), and untracked multiview panoramagrams. The combinations are virtually infinite."

* Peterka, T., Kooima, R., Girado, J., Ge, J., Sandin, D., Johnson, A., Leigh, J., Schulze, J., DeFanti, T., Dynallax: Solid State Dynamic Parallax Barrier Autostereoscopic VR Display, to appear in the Proceedings of IEEE VR 2007 , Charlotte, North Carolina, March 10-14, 2007.

CAVE is a registered trademark of the Board of Trustees of the University of  Illinois.

Related Links

Dynallax: Solid State Dynamic Parallax Barrier Autostereoscopic VR Display
IEEE Computer Society 
IEEE Computer Society Technical Activities Board 
IEEE Virtual Reality 2007 
Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise 

Media Contacts

Media Contacts: Doug Ramsey, 858-822-5825, or Laura Wolf,