Large Area Displays: The Changing Face of Visualization
Although very large immersive displays that can accommodate current data's scale, resolution, and complexity have progressed rapidly in the past decade and are now accessible to lay consumers, installation and maintenance challenges remain. V isualization is a large domain that encompasses the science that deals with massive data processing, display, and interaction. The term usually refers to a cyclic process in which interaction with the displayed visualization should trigger further
... er further processing and analyses. Thus, the quality of displays, particularly the large area displays so useful in collaborative projects, is critical to visualization's successful practical application. In that sense, visualization is the body, and the display is the face for expression, communication, and interaction. Without a high-quality display, visualization has no more utility than a body without a face. We underline this synergistic relationship to make an important point: the tremendous advances in data processing techniques for large-scale visualization would have been futile without the past decade's commensurate progress in large area display technology and its breathtaking promise for the future. A survey of work from the early 1990s to the present reveals that the display community is at a golden moment in large area display development in which it is enjoying the fruit of recent phenomenal progress and identifying open problems and ambitious visions for the next generation to explore. A WIDER VIEW In the early 1990s, single desktop monitors were the norm-the high end being a 19-inch diagonal with about a 250,000-pixel resolution. Data, in contrast, was entering the realm of petabytes and terabytes to meet the simulation and visualization demands of national projects in various scientific domains. Visualization, in particular, became an essential tool for most projects, which also depended on colocated multiuser collaboration. The data scale and resolution that these projects required along with their reliance on collaboration were way beyond what narrow field-of-view desktop displays could handle. To meet the growing demand for visualization tools, in 1993 researchers at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago introduced the first Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE), a display of three to five walls that resembled a room. As Figure 1a shows, each wall has one or more mono or stereoscopic projectors, enabling an unforeseen degree of immersion. Virtual reality systems incorporate versions of these CAVEs with interactive joysticks and head-tracking devices to facilitate view-dependent navigation and simulation tasks.