Based in the German city of Braunschweig (Brunswick), the DLR conducts detailed research into all fields of aerospace. It comprises a number of different institutes, which have the use of common, centrally located facilities. One of these, Simulation and Software Technology, has a sub-division dedicated to Software for Space Systems and Interactive Visualisation, headed by Dr Andreas Gerndt.
“Our Interactive Visualisation group was formed about two years ago, so it’s relatively young compared to some of the others,” comments Dr Wolff, head of the group. “Our focus is on scientific visualization and 3D interaction. To support our research and development, we decided to install a Virtual Reality Lab. As part of this we had a requirement for compact, high-resolution projectors with active stereo support – and this is where projectiondesign’s F10 AS3D came in.”
The 3D system at the DLR consists of three F10 AS3D projectors mounted vertically next to each other to provide a resolution of 2555 x 1400 pixels on a rear-projected flat screen measuring 3.5 x 2m. Proprietary edge-blending and warping units are used for seamless imaging and pixel-precise overlaps of the three projected areas. The system is driven by a four-node visualization cluster with synchronized Nvidia Quadro FX5800 graphic cards, and an optical tracker from ART is used for head and hand tracking.
The system has found a number of different but related research uses, as Dr Wolff explains: “One research focus is on linking the visualization system with high-performance computing (HPC) clusters to enable interactive exploration of large datasets, such as flow-filed simulations around airplanes or in turbines. But we are also developing new 3D interaction methods. Current projects include an investigation of virtual cartography on the surface of Mars and a virtual environment for the planning and training of robotic on-orbit satellite servicing tasks, using a telepresence interface.
“In all these applications, the high resolution and low noise level of the F10 AS3D have been invaluable. The projectors are perfectly colour-matched and synchronised to provide a perfect seamless image, and everyone who uses the setup has found it an enjoyable and instructive experience.”
Anders Løkke, International Marketing & Communications Manager at projectiondesign, concludes: “This project is a great example of projectiondesign not just fulfilling an existing need, but actually helping the scientific research community come up with new uses for our technology. Listening to our end customers and absorbing feedback from their work is vital to our own product development, so we are delighted that the DLR has chosen us for such a key research application.”