Researchers: Andrew Johnson, Dmitri Svistula, Jason Leigh, Patrick Hamilton (Science Museum of Minnesota) and Paul Morin (Department of Geology at the University of Minnesota)
Funding: the Science Museum of Minnesota
RainTable is an interactive multi-user application developed by the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Department of Geology at the University of Minnesota, and the Science Museum of Minnesota. RainTable is designed and developed for public use / exhibit, specifically in a museum setting. The Science Museum of Minnesota plans to incorporate RainTable into its educational exhibits.
RainTable lets users interact with two-dimensional maps of the Earth on a large high-resolution digital table, select locations of rainfall, and then watch as the rain flows down mountains and across fields, cuts channels through slopes and plains, and floods streams and rivers.
As in the accompanying photo, participants can interact with RainTable using the LambdaTable display system, developed by EVL. The LambdaTable consists of a 7-by-3-foot, 24-Megapixel display table, built using six Dell LCD 2560x1600 displays, driven by a cluster of 6 computers. Six infrared cameras, mounted overhead, determine the location of the pucks on the table. Participants position electronic pucks over areas to indicate the location, or locations, of rainfall. Several people can cooperatively interact with the system at once. The pucks’ coordinates are input to a mathematical rain runoff simulation model, previously only available to research scientists, which generates a real-time visualization of the rainfall, the development of channelized streams of water, and the effect of these streams as they merge with one another and flow into lakes and rivers and oceans.
RainTable can be configured for use with other multi-user display systems as well, such as EVL’s TacTile mulit-touch table currently under development.
The purpose of RainTable is to educate the general public about rainfall. It demonstrates how rain in one place can cause flash floods elsewhere, or how the distribution and concentration of pollutants, such as oil refinery waste water or lawn chemicals, affect water supplies.
Date: January 15, 2006 - June 17, 2009