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What is a CAVE Good For?

Cliff posted about 11 years ago | from the searching-for-the-killer-app dept.

Graphics 54

ynakai asks: "Today, I had the fortune to be allowed to play with demo applications in a CAVE. This technology is stunning, but what is the killer app? A staffer said that despite the potential use as a teaching tool for medical students, the system is rarely used now except by digital artists (who admittedly create some stunning experiences - try the VRML versions of some). Surely Slashdot can think up better ways to make use of a multimillion dollar room of fully immersive 3D interaction, besides FPS games?"

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IM sure there will be many uses proposed. (1)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | about 11 years ago | (#7158964)

What it will wind up being used for, as with every other computer technology, is solitare and porn.

Re:IM sure there will be many uses proposed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7180471)

solitare and porn

Every computer expert knows the result is solitaire porn.

hmmm (1)

the_other_one (178565) | about 11 years ago | (#7158972)

The first obvious answer is pr0n.

Driver education would probably be a good use.
You would only need to cover the passenger compartment windows with screens.
Of course the animatronic backseat driving mother-inlaw could drive up costs
and the suicide rate.

pr0n would be cool (2, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | about 11 years ago | (#7159090)

Then when you finally disconnect (say, after a week) for food or something, people will ask you questions about the news and when you're dumb founded cause you havn't watched tv in a week they can say "have you been living in a cave or what?" and you can say "actually, yes I have!"

The blood, it looks so... real... (1)

heldlikesound (132717) | about 11 years ago | (#7158982)

"Surely Slashdot can think up better ways to make use of a multimillion dollar room of fully immersive 3D interaction, besides FPS games?"


Better, yeah probably, but cooler, I dunno. Also, if you were a nerd in charge of coming up with idea for applying this technology, and it was already paid for, why on earth would you give up the best gaming rig on the planet. I'm sure there are a lot of great ideas, but everyone is afraid of losing their UT03K "test lab".

teleconferencing would be a start (0)

Tactical Skyrider (249625) | about 11 years ago | (#7158983)

imagine these things are phone booths. you and a friend can sit in a room together and chat from across the country. for $5 a minute. ;) hehehehh

Spreadsheets and word processing (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | about 11 years ago | (#7158996)

There simply isn't anything about using spreadsheets or word processors today that is enjoyable. They are the epitome of redundancy and boredom.

Taking these to the 3rd dimension and immersive could make the profession of accountant and secretary more attractive to young college graduates.

Re:Spreadsheets and word processing (1)

kabocox (199019) | about 11 years ago | (#7162300)

How would taking charts, graphs, and grids of numbers into 3D make it more attractive? I think a better solution would be for hi resolution 3 or 4 ft LCD screens. It would be "cheaper" implementing it to. How many accountants or secretaries would get a CAVE system? Unless it improved productive like ten fold, not many.

Two words. (1)

Lukey Boy (16717) | about 11 years ago | (#7159016)

Second Life [secondlife.com] .

I'll be the first of many to say it... (0, Redundant)

Johnso (520335) | about 11 years ago | (#7159035)

fully-immersive pr0n

Military use [duh!] (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 11 years ago | (#7159056)

Where have the CAVE people been getting their funding from? Surely they've applied for DARPA money. Battle field visualization is the obvious use for this technology.. as is air traffic control.

Blantant Plug -- Got a CAVE -- Use Ensight! (2, Interesting)

bats (8748) | about 11 years ago | (#7159077)

My company, CEI, Inc., makes a product called EnSight that's used in CAVE environments. EnSight is a general purpose scientific visualization tool used in a broad variety of fields. Take a look at the pretty pictures on our website [ensight.com] . Fields include astrophysics, professional motorsports, crash test simulations, industrial production simulation, biomedical, aerospace vehicle design, etc. Really high end visualization happens in a CAVE environment with 3-D goggles and head tracking equipment. This lets you move around through your simulation, look at things from different perspectives and even look from inside out. Most of these things are driven by big SGI boxes, but clustered (read linux) solutions are becoming more viable.

EnSight -- See what you're missing! (Please mod accordingly for cheese content.)

Grant Money (1)

Enrico Pulatzo (536675) | about 11 years ago | (#7159087)

It's not a bad thing to have around when you want to wow somebody...

for those of you who don't have an Indigo2... (2, Informative)

niff (175639) | about 11 years ago | (#7159172)

you can download a vrml plugin here:

http://ca.com/cosmo/ [ca.com]

CAVE experience here (2, Informative)

Robbat2 (148889) | about 11 years ago | (#7159173)

From working with a CAVE enviroment in a research lab for 2 years, I came to the simple conclussion that other than for developing and utilizing some custom 3D (with immersive stereo glasses, head tracking etc.) applications, and showing off your work on a big screen (with 3D of course).

There is a definate wow factor to it that helps in promoting the research, but for the most part it becomes stale fast.

Another shameless plug here, a custom math visualization system I spent quite a while in the development with: http://mvs.sourceforge.net/

Re:CAVE experience here (4, Informative)

davechen (247143) | about 11 years ago | (#7159392)

Yeah, I'm with you. I worked in a lab with a CAVE for several years, and I've visited other places with CAVEs. They're mainly good for making gee-whiz demos to impress funding agencies. I have yet to see anyone actually doing real work in a CAVE.

Re:CAVE experience here (1)

torpor (458) | about 11 years ago | (#7161261)

I've visited a few CAVE's in my time as well, and I find absolutely nothing wrong with the concept that the primary function of a CAVE is for the expression of art.

Re:CAVE experience here (1)

David Leppik (158017) | about 11 years ago | (#7163980)

I've visited a few CAVE's in my time as well, and I find absolutely nothing wrong with the concept that the primary function of a CAVE is for the expression of art.
Yeah. Especially at this one [culture.gouv.fr]

I can think of a lot of answers... (1)

Jerf (17166) | about 11 years ago | (#7159248)

I can think of a lot of answers, but they all involve high market penetration.

Who would have guess that computers would someday be used for Instant Messaging in the 1970's? First computers have to be cheap, then penetrate the market, then get hooked up, then the software be developed, etc. I can imagine immersive setups or MMORPGs or really useful collaboration tools or all kinds of other things that require a lot of people to own the hardware or a lot more bandwidth.

Basically, if you imagine technology as a tree, CAVE is probably a dead-end stub, where a nearby branch will end up taking off and strangling the CAVE approach, probably a branch that has a much lower hardware cost. (Think digital glasses that track movement and virtually project a room; much cheaper, much easier to make useable by the 'common man' since it doesn't eat cubic feet for lunch, easier to make useful intermediate steps.)

It is not useless but until there's one in a few million homes the commercial apps aren't going to take off, and fully enclosed environments are just prohibitive in so many ways for so many people. CAVE is a great research project, don't think I'm "knocking" it, but, well, I can't think of any killer app that came from a lab. (Xerox PARC developments subsequently used by Apple don't damage that claim, they re-inforce it; until Apple repackaged it out of a lab environment GUIs were dead. Not to mention GUI isn't really intrinsically a killer app, desktop-publishing was.) Part of the reason is the fact that until we use it, we don't recognize the killer app, and few people if any can guess it in advance (which, incidentally, does mean the Ask Slashdot as asked is basically unanswerable, historically speaking).

Until we have hackers (old sense of the word) hacking on it, the killer app won't happen.

Re:I can think of a lot of answers... (1)

cmowire (254489) | about 11 years ago | (#7160080)

I always figured that we'd eventually have CAVEs as the ultimate expansion of a wide-screen TV meeting the Home Theater PC video game machine.

But that's just me.

MY NAME IS RONALD MCRAYGUN AND I want you to join (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159270)

my McArmy

Interestingly enough.. (1)

NanoGator (522640) | about 11 years ago | (#7159436)

.. my company has a spherical video camera whose format would translate very well to the CAVE system. Can't tell you about practical applications here, but I can tell you at least that the technology to have it use real video, not just CG video, might be interesting to somebody out there.

orgy porn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7159469)

what, that needs to be spelled out any further? I don't think so.

However, why not? Now, remember that Kinkos used to flog (and I guess they still do, but am too lazy to check their website) their videoconferencing facilities, before webcams and voip were as common as they are now.

With a CAVE, you set up across the street a competing shop with a name like, oh, "Kinkies," and flog yours instead. ("Come view our womb imagery. Sugar walls, four of 'em. Have you ever been surrounded by porn? You will.")

walk-through/around (1)

Lish (95509) | about 11 years ago | (#7159559)

I think the "killer app" is being able to walk through a building that is just plans, before construction starts. Or to walk around a large object that is still in plans (eg. a plane or car) to see how it will turn out. Yeah, there's regular 3d render software that you can do this with on a small scale, but to do it life-size is something else. Especially with architectural plans.

Re:walk-through/around (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7180268)

Parent is dead-on. Immersive visualization (such as CAVE) is extremely well suited for the construction industry. Bringing representatives from multiple disciplines together BEFORE building anything, simply to see where certain systems interface/conflict with other systems and to review the overall design - these are both highly valuable experiences. A colleague of mine used a CAVE during the building of the Walt Disney Concert Hall [laphil.com] with a good deal of success.

In summary: CAVE is ideal for virtual building in the construction industry.

CaveQuake (1)

deanj (519759) | about 11 years ago | (#7159638)

Lots of folks like this app:

caveQuake [uiuc.edu]

The guy that did that work is one of the princples of Visbox [visbox.com] , a company that does high end displays. They were at Siggraph this past year.

Re:CaveQuake (1)

Jonah Hex (651948) | about 11 years ago | (#7160572)

Surely Slashdot can think up better ways to make use of a multimillion dollar room of fully immersive 3D interaction, besides FPS games?
I've never personally used a CAVE, but after looking over some of the reading material and the caveQuake site I can honestly say that I probably wouldn't be able to play FPS's in a CAVE.

The head tracking sounds good at first, until I think of how much twisting and turning I actually put my gun-toting avatars through; if I had to do that with my neck I'd either be in a neck brace or I'd be able to out-headbang Metallica. Maybe if it tracked my eye movements I'd go for controls other than my trusty keyboard and mouse, but I'd rather hit the park for some hacky-sack than to try and play some weird FPS version of Dance Dance Quake.

The other main problem I see with this is it could actually be too immersive for many gamers, perhaps myself included. I'm not especially susceptible to vertigo or motion sickness, however one of the nice things about a single large screen is that it is very immersive while you stay focused but it's also easy to maintain that level while not becoming ill.

Jonah Hex

Re:CaveQuake (1)

deanj (519759) | about 11 years ago | (#7163189)

Playing CQ is nothing like playing the one sitting down in front of a screen. You re-adjust when you're playing like this. There's no real movement, other than turning (your head or body) and ducking.

I've got motion sickness justa by sitting down in front of the screen and doing just non-stop running, and that was in Doom. You're not any more prone to motion sickness with CQ than you are with a regular screen, as long as you're the one controlling the action in CQ.

do not dismiss porn (3, Funny)

BortQ (468164) | about 11 years ago | (#7159639)

Pornography was a driving force in the mass market acceptance of:

Movie theaters

VCRs

Pay TV

The Internet

i.e. Basically all forms of rich media transmission. Do not dismiss porn as a venue to sell your new technology. It truly could be very helpful.

Re:do not dismiss porn (1)

spuke4000 (587845) | about 11 years ago | (#7162499)

I can't vouch for the veracity of this, but someone told me that initially porn was the driving force behind DVDs. The feature to view a single scene from multiple angles made for some interesting possibilities.

Yep, I can.... (1)

adam872 (652411) | about 11 years ago | (#7159931)

The crew I work for makes some pretty flash software for visualising oil and gas reservoirs in 3D in an immersive environment. It's not exactly the same as a CAVE, but we have variously used active/passive stereo and domes in the past to achieve pretty much that same effects (I'm sure it would work in a real CAVE too).

It never ceases to draw the "oohs and ahhs" from customers. The thing is, they actually find it useful, not just as some pretty eye candy. I guess you'd want to for the price of that SGI Onyx and the Barco projection system required to run it.

Class trips around the world (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 11 years ago | (#7159945)

Studying France? Take a class trip to Paris. OK, so that's too expensive, but if you can get the kids to a local CAVE they can get the walking tour and a good feel for the city.

The missing bit of technology would be something that could interpolate between QTVR nodes in a scene, to allow for arbitrary motion. Yeah, that's hard, but there are few motivators as enticing as cool hardware. :)

oil industry (1)

hitchhacker (122525) | about 11 years ago | (#7160034)


Halliburton recently bought a company here in Houston called magic earth [magicearth.com] .
They have a nice dome shaped cave [magicearth.com] for 3D oil exploration.

too bad the idiots don't have a larger picture on their website.

All that oil money buys some really cool toys.

-metric

Re:oil industry (1)

FatRatBastard (7583) | about 11 years ago | (#7160326)

I know BP has a few of these at their major sites and use them for looking at seismic data for exploration and for some teleconferencing, I believe.

Re:oil industry (1)

larien (5608) | about 11 years ago | (#7161038)

I've heard they have a few in Aberdeen and Shell certainly have one (I've seen it, although not in action).

Re:oil industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7165105)

They're also used for designing new plants. Very cool way getting operators to check the usability of designs before even starting construction.

Re:oil industry (1)

adam872 (652411) | about 11 years ago | (#7162095)

See my comment above. I work for Schlumberger and we acquired InsideReality a while ago. The software does pretty much what MagicEarth does. Check it out at:
http://www.sis.slb.com/content/about/campaigns/per formance/insidereality.asp

A Cave is good for... (1)

schnits0r (633893) | about 11 years ago | (#7160207)

Shelter, duh.

Well... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 11 years ago | (#7160376)


> What is a CAVE Good For?

Ask OBL; he's lived in one for the past two years.

I've used CAVE... (1)

TimoT (67567) | about 11 years ago | (#7160421)

... for researching the effects of visual-vestibular conflict on human balance. It's basically as good as it gets for researching vision; all the affordable (not to say CAVE isn't expensive) head-mounted displays have too narrow field of view and tend to be cumbersome.

Another application I can think of is exploratory data analysis (or data mining if you prefer). You can have multiple visualizations of a large data set floating around and even go into the data. The thing is that humans are very good a pattern recogniction (though sometimes even when there are none) and CAVE could be used to exploit this in science.

Lots of things (1)

0x0d0a (568518) | about 11 years ago | (#7160677)

It's probably vast overkill, but 3d systems frequently don't lend themselves to 2d visualization that well. Take, say, a building's power system. Sure, you could pop it on someone's computer with a 3d card, but computer input devices aren't anywhere near as nice to use as actually moving over to what you want to look at.

It might be interesting in computer vision -- you can actually produce an environment to desired specifications (or over a gradient of worsening conditions) to test in.

Commercial 3d virtual tourism?

Phobia trainers (1)

toybuilder (161045) | about 11 years ago | (#7160792)

I've heard of immersive environments being used to cure certain phobias. Acrophobia, in particular, was "curable" with a few treatments in a VR environment. An immersive interactive environment can be used to let people play out/explore/explain out their anxieties...

What is a CAVE Good For? (1)

sglane81 (230749) | about 11 years ago | (#7160836)

What is a CAVE Good For?

How cool would Batman be without it?

Typo? (1)

skinfitz (564041) | about 11 years ago | (#7160854)

The CAVE is a projection based virtual reality system developed at the Electronic Visualization Lab; it was created by Carolina Cruz-Neira, Dan Sandin, and Tom DeFanti, along with other students and staff of EVL.

Staff of EVL? Boy does that lend itself to typo abuse.

CAVE in Linz (1)

neglige (641101) | about 11 years ago | (#7161214)

The Ars Electronica Center [www.aec.at] in Linz has a CAVE installation [www.aec.at] . I had the chance to use it on a guided tour. Graphic quality was not too great, esp. when compared with todays FPS, but the experience was really cool!

I'd say the main areas of use for a CAVE system are design and construction, for example cars or houses. Anything that needs to been seen with the spatial component but is too expensive to build as a prototype. Just imagine building a house and then having to tear it down again because in the computer room you couldn't place the surround speakers correctly...

Headset better? (1)

DrJAKing (94556) | about 11 years ago | (#7161233)

For a lot of applications headsets are probably better. When I tried the CAVE here I was blown away by the immersion, to the extent that I bashed into the wall. And that's the connundrum at the heart of the thing - if you have something so immersive, that allows you to turn around and look at the virtual environment, many uses you might have for it would involve walking. Effectively you have something halfway between 3 (rotations) and 6 (rotations + translations) degrees of freedom - you *can* translate but not far enough to do much with. A headset with a long wire gives you much more range and you can do walk-around stuff.

Re:Headset better? (1)

cr0sh (43134) | about 11 years ago | (#7177070)

Actually, there exists a walking surface that is essentially a conveyor belt that can move in both directions simultaneously - it was created for DARPA's "dismounted soldier" project (think of two belts overlapped at right angles to each other, and the belts consist of multiple rollers running parallel with the direction of travel of the belt - ie, perpendicular to the end rollers for the belts). The system also had hydraulic rams to change the incline of the "terrain", as well as motors and such to provide feedback and terrain feel changes.

Not perfect, but not a bad system for a CAVE, either...

Flatland (1)

YouHaveSnail (202852) | about 11 years ago | (#7161888)

A very simple application that should be simple to write is a simulation of Flatland. See firsthand what it's like to move and interact while immersed in a 2D environment.

Another fun thing would be flying! Without a plane, of course, the way Superman or the Flying Nun used to do it. In the spirit of Douglas Adams, you'd start off by throwing yourself at the ground and missing.

It also shouldn't be hard to arrange a walking tour for architecture students through a city that includes hundreds of architecturally significant buildings, from reconstructed versions of Rome's Colloseum and Circus Maximus to the Guggenheim and the World Trade Center.

And then there's that first-person version of "Being John Malkovich" to consider...

Other than FPS? Training... Military... (1)

kabocox (199019) | about 11 years ago | (#7162225)

Until the games industry starts branching out into other occupations other than "lone military man behind enemy lines," driver (usually race but they are branching now alittle), pilot, or sports, then you won't find alot of use for it. What we need are games like crime scene detective, archaeologists (other than Indy).

Most outdoor type of work though would be alot cheaper performed outside somewhere. The advantage of a CAVE system is that you could have a standardized model that everyone practices or tests on though. Alot of information can be lost if artifacts aren't recovered and recorded properly. It could help for randomized digs to get proper record keeping pounded into the students heads. Sort of like how CS 1 Professors were trying to pount Hex and Binary math into our heads. Without practice, most skills fade and get lost.

Surely . . . (1)

dave_mcmillen (250780) | about 11 years ago | (#7165029)

Surely Slashdot can think up better ways to make use of a multimillion dollar room of fully immersive 3D interaction . . .

I started to reach for the keyboard at this point, but then:

. . . besides FPS games?

D'oh! Well, if you're going to add that little proviso, then no, I can't think of anything . . .

Software Development (1)

Bagpiper (22751) | about 11 years ago | (#7173228)

I've always thought the ideal development environment would be a virtual chamber.

Most IDEs and editors feel visually constraining. (Think how useful your desk would truly be if you had to interact with it through a 12x13 hole.

I want the complete document in front of me, with another complete document sitting right next to it. (I actually used to print out code, lay it out on the floor, and debug with a pencil.

Big, curved screens are better (1)

Animats (122034) | about 11 years ago | (#7174810)

Big wraparound projection screens provide a much better effect than the cube of flat screens. The CAVE approach only looks right from one viewpoint anyway, so you may as well use a wraparound screen in front of a desk.

Trading (1)

tqft (619476) | about 11 years ago | (#7180695)

The problem with trading anything is the vast arrange of variables - current actual holdings, hedges, debt, tax, cost-of-carry - which can all vary depending on the variety and type of security/commodity.

Make an app where you can see it all and manipulate (via hooks to a trading to trading system/spreadsheet/e-trade) everything and you are on a winner - even 0.1% increase in profitability matters when you do a lot of trades
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