Spoiler alert! The pixels for the photos atop these stories is generally 578 x 250. Try not to tell your friends. That said, the evolution of the pixel has, in the realm of digital photography, become nearly as interesting as all the high school prom photos being taken with some of these cameras. Now New York’s Stony Brook University has, to put it mildly, blown everything else the fuck up out of the water.
Stony Brook held the University’s Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT) on November 15th, and ultimate power of The Reality Deck was demonstrated for the attendees. Project Director Arie E. Kaufman, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Computer Science Department and Chief Scientist for CEWIT pioneered 3-D Virtual Colonoscopy systems, has managed to advance upon those previous achievements with the “Reality Deck.” The Reality Deck boasts 416 high-def screens, set up as a four-walled, three-dimensional room, measuring 33’ x 19’ x 10’, displaying a whopping 1.5 billion pixels. To give it a relatable but no less mindboggling angle, Kaufman says the 300 million-strong U.S. population could come together for a satellite photo and each person would be depicted in five pixels in color. Sounds of “Hey, I know that guy!” would soon follow.
Kaufman explains that the data is displayed with an unprecedented amount of resolution that saturates the human eye, provides 20/20 vision, and renders traditional panning or zooming motions obsolete. The details are on the screen for you to examine; just step back to gain perspective. Oh man, oh man, oh man. Video games and porn. There, that’s all I’ll say about it.
The modern marvel was created with a $1.4 million National Science Foundation grant — matched by Stony Brook’s $600,000 — breaks many records in display technology, and is five times larger than its closest counterpart. The non-humble list of areas the Reality Deck will assist in are advanced medical imaging, protein visualization, nanotechnology, astronomical exploration, micro tomography, architectural design, reconnaissance, satellite imaging, security, defense, detecting suspicious persons in a crowd, news and blog analyses, climate and weather modeling, and, neither last nor least, storm-surge mapping to fight flood disasters. Infinitely large amounts of data can be explored.
The demonstration included, but was not limited to, water-level mapping, satellite images of New York City and parts of Long Island, the 2008 Presidential inauguration, Milky Way visuals from NASA and the European Southern Observatory, and protein visualizations of E. coli bacteria.
When I was a kid, my aunt, I suppose in an effort to shut up a mouthy child, told me that I was able to duck through the curtain beneath the screen in order to interact with those seven dwarves who looked to be more fun than that woman they were helping. That’s not the same as what’s been done here, but my inner child is squealing nonetheless.
A Detailed Look at the Reality Deck
• 416 high-resolution displays
• 1.5 Billion pixels total (first display to break the one billion pixel mark)
• Five times larger than the second largest display in the world
• Immersive 4-wall layout in a 33’x19’x10′ room with a tiled-display door
• 20-node visualization cluster
• 240 CPU cores — 2.3 TFLOPs performance, 1.2 TB distributed memory
• 80 GPUs — 220 TFLOPs performance, 320 GB distributed memory visualization applications. Large gigapixel panoramic images — e.g. 45 gigapixel photograph of Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 6 gigapixel Infrared telescope view of the Milky Way
• Large architectural models — e.g. 40 million polygon model visualized at interactive frame rates
• High-performance sound system with 22 speakers and four subwoofers