Future science: Using 3D worlds to visualize data

Last Updated: Wed, Feb 20, 2013 08:45 hrs

Computer scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago have created a real-life holodeck where astronomers can fly over the surface of Mars and where "Star Trek" fans can walk around a life-size recreation of the Starship Enterprise.

It's called CAVE2. The system's 8-foot-high screen wraps around the viewer 320 degrees. A panorama of images gives a dizzying sense of being able to touch what's not really there.

The project was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy in the United States.

CAVE2's co-inventor Jason Leigh (LEE) says it could change the way surgeons are trained and improve patient care. It could be used to model global weather systems and the way new drugs bind to proteins in the human body.

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