This prototype system has been installed in the Department of Media Study, University at Buffalo. A group of graduate and undergraduate students helped build the system, and a current graduate project is to add spatialized sound capability to it. The department runs a two semester computer graphics course using OpenGL. In the second semester the students learn to create their own interactive, virtual environments which are displayed on the system. In a year long, more advanced, VR course for both graduates and undergraduates, teams of programmers and 3D modelers are building VR art projects. The students are developing their work using both the low-cost display in Media Studies and an ImmersaDesk at the Center for Computational Research across campus. Media Study has also established a lab with nine Linux PCs, loaded with the same software as that used on the VR system, on which students develop their projects. Because the VR system is PC-driven, students can easily run programs built on the other PCs, or even on their home computers, on the full VR display, rather than having to cope with the difficulties of moving between different platforms.
In the Spring of 2002, the system will be taken down and reassembled in Albany as one of the demonstrations at ``UB day'', a presentation by the University to the state legislature. In April 2002, we are planning to use the system (at Media Study) to show the students' VR projects at an event organized by Digital Poet, Dr. Loss Glazier. We have started preliminary talks with Hallwalls, a Buffalo media arts center, about staging a VR show using a similar system. We have also adapted the same technology (sans tracking) to create a monoscopic, two-screen display for an exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum's Arts and Industries Building. Working on these events is helping to clarify the problems involved when the system is exposed to the rigors of a museum or gallery environment, and to refine it in terms of durability and usability.