Affordable, PC-driven projection based virtual reality systems are a popular topic of investigation right now, and will probably soon become widespread. Our particular hope for such systems is that they will help expand VR out of the research and corporate labs, into public and educational venues.
Our prototype display has now been functional and in use for most of a year. The entire system cost roughly $20,000 to construct; we estimate that a new one could currently be built for about half that amount.
In basic performance tests, as well as day-to-day use, the low-cost PC system is comparable to one using an SGI Onyx2. The LCD projectors and black screen provide a bright display with better contrast than older systems using CRT projectors. The lightweight passive stereo glasses are less encumbering, and less fragile, than active glasses. The system as a whole can be maintained by a group of students who have only recently started learning about VR.
We would like to thank Chris Galbraith, Dan Neveu and Paul Costa, for their enthusiasm and ingenuity in helping us put together the Media Study low-cost VR system.
The virtual reality research, collaborations, and outreach programs at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago are made possible by major funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), awards EIA-9802090, EIA-9871058, ANI-9980480, and ANI-9730202, as well as the NSF Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) cooperative agreement ACI-9619019 to the National Computational Science Alliance. EVL also receives major funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE) Science Grid program, awards 99ER25388 and 99ER25405, and the DOE ASCI VIEWS program, award B347714. In addition, EVL receives funding from Pacific Interface on behalf of NTT Optical Network Systems Laboratory in Japan.
CAVE and ImmersaDesk are trademarks of the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. DLP is a trademark of Texas Instruments. IRIX, InfiniteReality, Onyx2 and OpenGL Performer are trademarks of SGI. Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds. Matrox is a trademark of Matrox Graphics Inc. Pentium is a trademark of Intel Corporation. Quadro2MXR and GeForce2MX are trademarks of NVIDIA Corporation. Radeon is a trademark of ATI Technologies Inc.