The Novel Interfaces Laboratory is a large scale laboratory at the University of Brighton for conducting research in the area of interactive virtual environments.
The facility is available for:
1. Research on the definition and real time display of complex virtual environments.
2. Conducting experiments in the usability of tools for interacting with virtual environments. For this a mixture of eye-tracking and other recording systems are used.
With this facility, we aim to bring together different research areas, such as virtual environments, interactive technologies, usability studies, computer graphics, virtual humans, natural language analysis and generation.
The graphics cluster consists of consumer PCs powering 24 LCDs tiled on 6 to 8 stands. Each of these PCs has a top of the line consumer grade AMD processor with 4 GB of RAM containing two nVidia top of the line graphics cards and one gigabit Ethernet card. Each graphics card is capable of driving two LCD screens meaning that in total a PC can drive the four screens on its stand. The LCD screens have a native resolution of 1360 x 768 and a virtual resolution used for graphics processing of 1535 x 936. PCs are homogeneous running the Ubuntu 8.04 distribution of GNU/Linux.
Figure 1. Stands for tiled video wall
The software technologies to drive the display include X, OpenSG and the Point of Regard suite. Figure 2 illustrates the client-server architecture for the graphics cluster. The rendering nodes - PCs in the cluster - run Xorg on startup. The display combines a column of three or four monitors using TwinView. In addition, all client and server nodes have version 1.8 of OpenSG installed which enables the distribution of 3D scenes.
Figure 2. Client-Server architecture of graphics cluster
The facility was funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).