ARCHIVED: Completed project: Distributed Visualization Systems

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Primary UITS contact: Michael Boyles

Completed: May 10, 2013

Description: The UITS Advanced Visualization Lab (AVL) maintains a network of centralized visualization resources including, but not limited to, the Virtual Reality Theater and High Resolution Display Wall at IUPUI, and the Visualization & Collaboration Theater and 24-tile IQ-Wall at IU Bloomington. These resources serve as state-of-the-art facilities for the university community, as well as showplace venues for educational and community outreach and for distinguished guests. As flexible and as powerful as these central systems are, they are not always the best solution for every situation that may require visualization. This project aims to develop and deploy a network of mid-range visualization resources to complement the central resources. These displays are termed "distributed" due to their scattered but strategic geographic locations across the university campuses.

Outcome: The goal of this project is the development and deployment of a family of mid-range visualization systems across multiple IU campuses. Each system consists of a moderately powerful visualization computer, at least one display device, and an ergonomic stand or mounting frame. A variety of software tools have been identified and are routinely updated. Additional hardware and software components can be added depending on the location of the system, and may include additional monoscopic or stereoscopic displays as well as advanced forms of user interaction such as user input tracking and multi-touch technology. The primary user and campus location receiving such a distributed visualization system agree to join our growing visualization community in an effort to enable sharing, learning, and discovery. In most cases, a system will be usable by up to four people, but some systems can accommodate fifteen or more people in certain situations and environments.

Milestones and status:

  • Summer 2010: 12-tile IQ-Wall is prototyped in the WCC lobby. Using a single Windows 7 PC and off-the-shelf displays designed for video walls, the IQ-Wall provides an easy way to scale visualizations, interactive graphics, and any Windows application to resolutions of 4096 x 3072 and beyond without any changes to the software.
  • Fall 2010: Initial IQ-station prototype is revealed and deployed to test locations. This mid-range display couples stereoscopic displays with motion tracking, and is ideal for semi-immersive scientific visualization and virtual reality simulations. In conjunction with strategic partners across the nation, the IQ-station is demonstrated at the SC10 conference in New Orleans.
  • Spring 2011: Focusing on the delivery of user-selectable stereoscopic content in public spaces, the 3D kiosk is deployed to the IU Cinema for its grand opening. It features a variety of stereoscopic movies created over the last several years by faculty, staff, and students of the IU community.
  • Summer 2011: goes live. This site showcases and provides downloadable access to the stereoscopic education and outreach videos created under the TeraGrid project. It will also serve as a gateway to 3D video and animation projects developed in the IUB Telecommunications Department and the IUPUI Media Arts and Sciences Program. This site serves as one of the content resources for clients of the distributed visualization project.
  • Summer 2011: A 9-tile IQ-Wall is deployed to Informatics West at IUB. Funded by Professor Geoffrey Fox as part of an NSF grant, the display is used to support grant-funded collaborations and visualizations, as well as to display student works and projects.
  • Fall 2011: A 9-tile IQ-Wall serves as the largest display and major visual focal point for IU's booth at the SC11 conference exhibition in Seattle. It features a variety of scientific visualizations, and serves as a project presentation platform.
  • Spring 2012: The AVL temporarily deploys a 9-tile IQ-Wall to the new Social Science Research Commons located in Woodburn Hall on the Bloomington campus. Reaction is positive, and the group is interested in pursuing a permanent display for interactive visualization and presentation.
  • Spring 2012: The design for the IQ-Force is finalized and two such systems are deployed to the IU School of Dentistry. The IQ-Force is a haptic-based simulation environment. Dentistry is using the IQ-Force to test a variety of dental scenarios such as injection and drilling.
  • Summer 2012: The temporary IQ-Wall moves from the Social Science Research Commons into the Wells Library first floor Research Commons area. Additionally, it has been expanded from a 9-tile to a 12-tile display.
  • Summer 2012: The IT-Table is built and showcased in IU's tent at the Smithsonian Institute Folklife Festival in DC. The Table is a horizontally oriented HD monitor capable of multi-touch interaction. One of the more engaging software tools is an interactive application that allows users to view and collaborate with different media elements from online digital collections.
  • Summer 2012: The first IQ-Tilt is built and available for use in IT 414. The Tilt is a 2x2 tiled ultra-high resolution display which, like the IQ-Table, supports multi-touch interaction. The novelty of the Tilt is that is easily converts between a horizontal "table" mode and a vertical "wall" mode.
  • Fall 2012: The IQ-Wall in the Wells library is well received and getting heavy use. This deployment, in the center of campus with such high visibility, is helping AVL staff work through policy and user-support issues for all distributed visualization systems.
  • Fall 2012: The IQ-Tilt transports more easily. A recent improvement now allows the Tilt to fit through most good-sized doors in vertical (wall) mode.
  • Spring 2013: Multiple IQ-Tables get deployed to various locations on the IUB campus. Currently, there is an IQ-Table on the second floor of the East Tower of the Wells Library in the Government Information, Maps, and Microforms area, and a separate IQ-Table in the Mathers Museum as part of their 50th anniversary celebration. Each of these are showing different interactive collections. Please visit these public spaces to see them for yourself.
  • Spring 2013: The first production IQ-Tilt was built within the AVL's research facilities at IUPUI and just delivered to its permanent home in the lobby of the Innovation Center at IUB.
  • Spring 2013: The IQ-Force is getting extra use from our partners at the IU School of Dentistry. Many students have signed up to try it out during the Injection Simulator Haptic Lab sessions in May.

Comment process: AVL staff welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions. Send mail to

Benefits: Distributed visualization systems occupy a relatively small footprint, allowing them to be located more easily in individual departments, small classrooms, and public spaces. Consequently, such systems are easier to schedule, and provide increased opportunity for ad hoc and informal collaborative visualization. More energy-efficient technology and intuitive interfaces help to lower the cost of ownership and barrier of entry, respectively.

Client impact: The technology, both hardware and software, employed for the development of these distributed visualization systems is closely aligned with the generally more powerful centralized visualization facilities maintained and supported by the Advanced Visualization Lab. Clients are therefore enabled to experiment with advanced visualization technology, and can more thoroughly prepare prior to visiting the central facilities. This maximizes the client's time in the central facilities while minimizing operating costs. Finally, by following a prescriptive "recipe" for the systems, and by utilizing AVL integration assistance, researchers and departments realize significant cost savings on research and development time, hardware purchase, and integration costs, while also availing themselves of AVL's leveraged community support for these systems.

Project team: There are a variety of aspects to this project; therefore, all Advanced Visualization Lab staff are involved either directly or indirectly.

Governance: This project is led and managed by:

  • Michael Boyles, Manager, Advanced Visualization Lab
  • Jeff Rogers, Visualization Systems & Displays Team Lead, Advanced Visualization Lab
  • Bill Sherman, Scalable Visualization & Virtual Reality Team Lead, Advanced Visualization Lab
  • Chris Eller, Digital Arts & Media Team Lead, Advanced Visualization Lab
  • Eric Wernert, Director, Visualization & Analytics

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Last modified on 2018-01-18 18:00:11.

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