Calit2 is one of the pre-eminent technology colleges of our time. Partnered with UC Irvine, it brings together over 700 faculty, researchers, students and partners from the private sector to push the boundaries of our imaginations and the virtual world. Calit2 has ties to some of the most creative scientists, engineers and digital artists in the world and engages these relationships so its research and discovery can have a positive impact on the key issues facing the world.
In a time when education budgets are dwindling, the college leverages $7 for every $1 it receives from the state and in the 10 years since its founding, the college has conducted $10 billion of research.
Last night, attendees of the conference toured some of the virtual reality and cinematic labs on campus and delighted in the experience.
The auditorium serves as a digital cinematic environment for high-resolution visualizations and video and spatialized audio. Participants sat attentive as an old movie showing religious migration to Mecca played on the screen. The film was shot on a regular camera and the picture looked like we were viewing it through a grimy window.
Then they showed what the same footage looked like after it was transferred to their high-resolution 4K format and gasps sprinkled throughout the audience. Of the teaming mass of people swirling through Mecca, we could see each one as if we were standing right in front of them. They showed the glittering walls of a palace and we could almost make out each jewel and intricate gold leaf detail.
The problem with 4K film, is that in the absence of physical tape (everything's digital) there isn't a guaranteed way to preserve it. So Calit2 students and researchers are working to find a solution.
The StarCAVE is an immersive, virtual-reality environment that consists of five walls with three screens each, plus a floor screen. This may seem like sensory overload, but it allows small groups of scientists to immerse themselves in databased visualizations and actually venture into worlds as small as nanoparticles and as big as the cosmos.
Think of how many more high school students would get excited about science, if they could actually walk amongst the subjects of their study.
The 3D Video Game
The third exhibit was an interactive video game designed by a resident digital artist where the player wears 3D glasses and controls a cyclone of cars in order to build its "city". Using a giant rotating sphere, the player either directs the cyclone towards pieces of homes or homes that are constructed and destroys or builds upon them. Depending on the player's choice, pieces of the homes, cars and other parts of a city come flying off the screen and into the ether.
The Calit2 labs tour was a night of play, wonder and delight. I can't wait to see where a year takes them.
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