Booth-Sized VR System Could Be Used for Motion-Picture Previs and Other Apps

Christie Digital debuted the HoloStation, a scaled-down virtual-reality system, at SIGGRAPH this morning. The company calls it a "compact personal visualization solution" — a high-quality immersive display system that can be tucked into the corner of an office, rather than taking up an entire room, as CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment) systems typically do.
The entire unit can be so small (about six foot square, with a height of at least seven feet to allow projectors to be mounted over the viewer's head) because it's designed and optimized for use by a single user wearing 3D glasses, rather than a small group.
The system, which the company hopes will be used for feature film previs as well as trade-show and biomedical applications, uses four of Christie's LED-based Mirage WU-L projectors. The projectors are mounted overhead, with proprietary lenses that throw the images downward, onto three screens that wrap around the user's viewing angle.
Because the projectors use LED illumination with an expected life of 60,000 hours, Christie says the system should run for seven years without requiring a replacement of the light source.
The system pushes up to 15 million pixels (7.5 megapixels per eye) at a 120 Hz refresh rate (60 Hz per eye), Christie reps said. It utilizes NVIDIA Quadro Plex graphics processing and a head-tracking system and other software from WorldViz.
The results are pretty impressive, judging from the demo the company set up on the show floor. With its black curtains drawn to block out ambient light, the system resembled an old-timey photo booth, and the depth of the scene it creates (which can be controlled by a small handheld joystick device) belies the diminutive size. The sense of space is convincing.
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