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Design Research & Extension Program
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The VisionDome
Principal Investigators:
Jay Tomlinson
Michael Holmes

Research Assistants:
Derick Thompson
Tim Kiernan
Jin Hou
Nick Frazier
Jerry Hahn

1999 to present (ongoing)

five meter visiondome entrance The VisionDome is an immersive, multi-user, single projection Virtual Reality environment. By combining computer generated 3-D models with advanced projection equipment, the VisionDome users are immersed in a 360 degree by 180 degree virtual environment. It allows designers and clients to interact in real-time with the proposed design. The spaces of a building or lanscape plan are visualized in a photo-realistic way. This immersive experience is critical to the visualization and evaluation of design solutions. Additionally the VisionDome is ideal for multi-user, multi-sensory display of environmental simulations, training, design, engineering, product display, energy exploration & production, education, medical services and entertainment.

The DRL has plans to use the VisionDome for research initiatives and projects in the fields of:
  • Architecture
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Industrial Design
  • Urban Planning
  • Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Biology

Current VisionDome Projects
  • Modeling Strategy Development - Evaluation of modeling application and techniques is currently underway. Issues relating to file format, polygon-count, image mapping, post application modeling, VRML, and real time rendering limitations are being examined.
  • Campus Massing Study - 3D Model of the Vet School Campus are currently being developed. These models will be use to in a massing study to inform sighting decisions for future facilities.
  • Terrain Visualization Study - Visualizations models of the Blue Ridge Mountain's terrain are being developed to further explore and explain issues relating to visual sensitivity. This will inform and aid in the Blue Ridge Parkway Conservation efforts.

    How the VisionDome Works
    Three-dimensional immersive environments (3D Models) are developed in modeling application such as AutoCad, 3D Studio Max, or Alias Wavefront. Models are exported in VRML or Inventor format. These interactive files types can be displayed over the web by using a VRML plug-in with your browser. The VisionDome uses advanced optics to display these files in the 180 degree immersive dome screen. The VisionDome uses a unique distortion correction OpenGL library, designed to work with viewer application that are OpenGL compliant.

    architectural simulation inside the dome

    The VisionDome Experience
    Users of the VisionDome are not required to wear goggles, glasses, helmets, or other restrictive devices. Upon entering the VisionDome, user views are into its hemispherical structure, which forms a fully immersive 180-degree hemispheric screen. Users see vivid images which take on depth and reality inside the VisionDome. The VisionDome creates a virtual reality-based environment that enhances the professional worker's quality and productivity.
    architectural simulation inside the visiondome

    Elumens Corporation (formerly ARC)
    The VRML Repository