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Weill Cornell 3D Cave Helps Researchers Visualize Data

Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City has gone public with an installation of a "3D cave" for biomedical research put in place several years ago using high definition projectors from Christie. The system, set up in the Institute for Computational Biomedicine, allows researchers to reconstruct data in an immersive 3D environment using eight Christie Mirage HD3 virtual reality projectors. The Christie projectors deliver a resolution of 1,920 x 1,920 (3.68 megapixels) per wall.

"We are able to explore images at the molecular and cellular level with a clarity and precision that was previously unattainable. Images of tissues and biological objects can be twisted, turned and expanded, viewed layer by layer with the flick of the wrist, allowing for an unmatched level of inspection that engulfs researchers in colors and details," said Director Harel Weinstein.

Added Vanessa Borcherding, systems administrator, "Pixel density is key to visualizing the vast amount of data we need to analyze."

Since going live, the Institute's researchers have leveraged this technology to help guide them to discovery in a number of different domains. One project has involved the study of MRI images to successfully identify areas of the brain that are underdeveloped in children whose mothers engaged in substance abuse while pregnant. The researcher behind this work--Luis Gracia--built an automated rendering pipeline using software from Harvard to help researchers visualize the brains of these children over time to track the development of various regions. According to the Institute, being able to get children in therapies sooner based on these study results can correct a large amount of the deficit that they would normally experience if not treated as quickly.

"It comes down to the fact that using the Visualization Facility, we are able to envision things that simply cannot be envisioned any other way," said Jason Banfelder, assistant professor and technology engineer. "This is one of the few facilities of its kind dedicated exclusively to biomedical research applications. We see extensive opportunities not only for our own work, but also for wider collaboration with other research groups as stereoscopic displays and virtual and augmented reality enter the mainstream."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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