Modernising and perfecting an immersive solution.
Beaulieu University Campus, Rennes, France
For IRISA (A French university laboratory for research and innovation in digital science and technology), virtual reality (VR) is nothing new. They already own an immersive virtual reality system. The experience, they can already live it. And yet, the call for tenders that we responded to was related to virtual reality (VR) systems. Faced with the limitations of their device, IRISA decided to invest in a more recent solution using more practical VR technology.
IRISA is working on how to move around in virtual data. Its preferred tool is the VR CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment), an immersive room installed on the university campus. This space offers the possibility of immersing yourself in an entirely virtual environment and interacting with it. Data visualisation is easier to understand and in real time. At the university, the CAVE consists of 13 video projectors and multiple screens: one in the front, one on the left, one on the right and one on the floor.
Although it is still functional, IRISA felt that it was time to upgrade the system. Immersive technologies are evolving. Just as our televisions display ever more precise and dazzling high-definition images, so do virtual reality systems. And in the light of this constant progress, the institute wanted to maintain its technological lead, while reducing its ecological impact.
Until recently, the cave’s first projectors contained lamps designed using outdated state-of-the-art technology. Their rarity made the system expensive to switch on. The institute therefore limited the use of the system.
Re-use. Start again. Fine tune. The CAVE is 9.6m wide, 3.1m high and 2.88m deep. It is one of the largest immersive virtual reality systems in Europe. Immersion started from this existing space to integrate Barco’s technology. The result is 14 new video projectors equipped with a new piece of modern technology: the laser. The lamps have therefore been replaced. The lasers are more resistant and do not deteriorate as quickly, allowing for daily use without loss of performance.
The CAVE has been given a new lease of life. From its past, only the screens remain. Immersion has also changed the tracking system and the graphic cards to improve the quality and the resolution of the images used.
Installing several video projectors in the same room. So far, nothing new. The challenge lied in the number of projectors. 14 projectors. The 14 projectors needed to be perfectly aligned to avoid the display of the images from being blurred. We also checked whether the building could absorb the heat emitted by the projectors without the fans generating too much noise.
New projectors mean better video projection quality. The brightness of the projection is higher. The size of the pixels decreases, their number increases from about 20 million to more than 36 million. In other words, the resolution of the projected images is much higher.
This change is an investment for IRISA. However, in the long term, it will result in significant savings: no more bulbs to buy and less equipment maintenance.
Following this new installation, the CAVE’s use has been radically transformed. With laser projectors, it can now be used freely, without counting the cost. As a result, IRISA is opening it up to new users, such as artists. And the immersive system benefits more people with no negative impact on its performance. More users can now benefit from the VR experience.