Project Reporting FINAL REPORT FOR AWARD # 9601874

Ronald Kriz ; VA Polytechnic Inst & St U
Academic Research Infrastructure: Acquisition of a CAVE: Breaking Research and Education Barriers by Developing 3-D Visualization CAVE Technology

Participant Individuals:
CoPrincipal Investigator(s) : John M Carroll; David R Bevan; Deborah S Hix; Marc Abrams; William A Curtin
Other -- specify(s) : Yvan J Beliveau; Roger W Ehrich; Diana Farkas; Brian M Kleiner; Clifford A Shaffer; Robert C Williges

Partner Organizations:
National Computational Science Alliance: Facilities; Personnel Exchanges

Mr. John Shalf, NCSA Staff, created the AtomView software 
in collaboration with Drs. Ron Kriz and Diana Farkas to view 
largescale atomic structures in virtual environments.

Dr. Ron Kriz worked with NCSA staff to organize a CAVE 
programming workshop at NCSA, summer 1997.

Ms. Rachael Brady, NCSA Staff, visited Virginia Tech's CAVE 
facility to work with Dr. Deborah Hix on evaluation of the 
Crumbs virtual environment application.

Other collaborators:

List does not include CoPIs on this grant.

1. College of Architecture and Urban Studies: Dr. Robert Schubert, 
   Professor, Associate Dean for Research Administration. Director 
   of the VELab,   
   Author of the 'Cybercore History Project',, which used
   the CAVE to reconstruct the Cathedral at Cluny, France.
2. College of Architecture and Urban Studies: Dr. Dennis Jones,    
   Associate Professor, Teaches C++ and other computer graphics 
   courses in Architecture and advised several independent student 
   CAVE related projects.

3. College of Human Resources and Education, Department of Interior 
   Design, Dr. Joan McLain-Kark,,
   and the director of the Interior Design Futures Laboratory, Uses the CAVE extensively in courses 
   and independent student projects in interior design.

4. College of Arts and Science, Dr. Ed Fox, Professor Department of 
   Computer Science, Director of Digital Libraries Research Lab,  CAVE project: 'CAVE Electronic and 
   Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) ('CAVE-ETD'),

5. College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Dr. Tim Mack, 
   Department Head, Entomology, and Dr. Alexi Sharov, lectures 
   and CAVE programmer for the 'CAVE-Insects' project,

6. College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Mr. Peter Sforza,, author of the Virtual Dandelion and Virtual 
   Nematode project,

7. College of Arts and Science, Dr. Crandal Shifflet,, 
   Department of History, PI on the Virtual Jamestown project, which 
   includes CAVE 'walk-thru' of Jamestown.

8. College of Engineering, Dr. Michael Deisenroth, Department of 
   Industrial Systems Engineering, advised Mr. Jeff Sugar's Masters 
   Project (not a 
   Masters Thesis) 'Space Station Remote Manipulator System', see

9. College of Arts and Science, Dr. Brian Dennison, co-advised Ms. 
   Caitlin Kelleher, along with Dr. Deborah Hix on her Senior 
   Project in the Department of Computer Science 'CAVE Developoment 
   of Astronomy Visualization', which is part of the 'Virtual 
   Universe Project,

10. College of Arts and Science, Department of Computer Science, 
    'Problem Solving Environment Research',, where the CAVE is listed as a PSE 
    resource for a inter-disciplinary list of professors in Computer 
    Science and other disciplines at Virginia Tech.

11. Central Virginia's Governor's School (CVGS) at Lynchburg, 
    Virginia,  Tom Morgan, Director of 
    CVGS, CoPI on Proposal to 'Extending the Use of Collaborative 
    Virtual Environments for Instruction to K-12 Schools', project 
    summary of results posted on the Web at

Activities and findings:

Research and Education Activities: 
. ACQUISITION OF A CAVE(tm): BREAKING RESEARCH AND EDUCATIONAL BARRIERS BY DEVELOPING 3D VISUALIZATION CAVE TECHNOLOGY (CISE/ARI 9601874) ORIGINAL PROJECT SUMMARY OBJECTIVES PROPOSED IN 1996: The objective of this ARI Research Project is to provide access to and training in the use of advanced Virtual Environments (VE) such as the CAVE(tm) that will break barriers in Virginia Tech research and education-research programs funded by NSF and other organizations. As a CAVE(tm) partner with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), Virginia Tech will focus on human-computer interaction (HCI) development and evaluation with specific applications in simulation-visualization (SV) of complex multidimensional biochemical, nanoscale ceramics, and fiber-reinforced structures. Results of this project will demonstrate how scientists and materials research engineers can benefit from the use of well-designed user interfaces in a CAVE(tm) environment. These activities will become part of Virginia Tech's and southwest Virginia's future Advanced Communication and Information Technology Center (ACITC), a building scheduled to be completed by the year 2000 and designed to serve on-campus and related regional off-campus information technology programs. Both HCI and SV activities have also been targeted by Virginia Tech in its long term strategic plans to build the ACITC building. In partnership with NCSA the project goal is to focus on development and evaluation of VEs that will benefit scientific applications of interest to both Virginia Tech and NCSA and within the scope of the ACITC program. __________________________________________________________________ CAVE: is a trademark of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory of the University of Illinois 1.0 RESEARCH AND EDUCATION ACTIVITIES FROM AUGUST 1996 TO FEBRUARY 2001: Since this was an equipment acquisition ARI project, research and education projects proposed in this ARI depended largely on additional funding from '..NSF and other organizations'. ARI CoPIs sought outside funding to explore how CAVE virtual environment technology would be used in a variety of SV areas with an emphasis on HCI. Only one CoPI was funded to do ARI research, Dr. Deborah Hix for HCI evaluation of ARI targeted SV areas. A comprehensive list of CAVE related research proposals is posted at . In Section 1 we highlight ARI research and other significant CAVE research and educational projects since September 1996. 1.1 Equipment Acquisition and Construction: The project was funded, however, the proposed budget was cut from $1.1M to $850K for equipment acquisition only with university cost sharing at $797K, for a total budget of $1.65M. Dr. Hix was paid from university cost sharing funds. Significant events for the acquisition and operation of the CAVE facility as proposed are highlighted below. A detailed chronology of projects events is outlined at ( CAVE Event Chronology: - NSF funds were received on August 30, 1996. - P.O. for the SGI Onyx Rack CAVE computer & system sent September 30, 1996 - SGI Onyx Rack CAVE computer delivered October 11, 1996 - SGI Onyx Rack CAVE computer operational in Hancock Hall, January 13, 1997 - Pyramid CAVE system shipped and received February 10, 1997 --- unexpected delays in securing CAVE site --- - Temporary off-campus site for CAVE system operational December 17, 1997 - CAVE system configuration complete, faculty and student access, February 1998 --- ACITC --- - CAVE floor with motion base designed, completed, and approved July 13, 2000 - CAVE system moved to new ACITC building August 13, 2000 - CAVE computer operational, September 2000 - CAVE floor with motion base construction began January 9, 2001 - CAVE floor with motion base completed February 16, 2001 - CAVE floor modified, CAVE frame and carpet installed March 8, 2001 - CAVE system operational, March 26, 2001 (only took 4.5 years) Current status of the ACITC CAVE facility can be accessed at Images of ACITC CAVE facility are also provided in Figures 1 through 8 in the PDF file. 1.2 RESEARCH: Target Application Areas: Additional funding for the large simulations and visualization of nanoscale ceramic structures came from the NSF Combined Research and Curriculum Development (CRCD) EEC-9700815 and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) BAA 98-014. Funding for development of CAVE Visualization of Biomolecular Structures was realized by Virginia Tech internal funding, ASPIRES (A Support Program of Innovative Research Strategies), 'Application of Visualization and Haptic Feedback to Enhance Molecular Docking'. Additional funding for development for haptic force feedback for nanotechnology was funded by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). No funding was realized for research in Failure and Reliability in Fiber-Reinforced Metal and Ceramic Structures, because Dr. Curtin accepted an academic appointment at Brown University prior to the construction of the CAVE at Virginia Tech. 1.2.1 Large Scale Simulation & Visualization of Ceramic Structures Collaboration with NCSA: John Shalf (NCSA staff) developed the AtomView SGI-performer based software to view simulation results of large scale ceramic structures in the CAVE, in collaboration with Drs. Kriz and Farkas, summer 1997 at NCSA. See Access Article: The Web site for Dr. Farkas's Center for Modeling and Simulation in Material Science (CMSMS) ( demonstrates research activities related to CAVE technology. NSF CRCD & PACI: Additional funding from the NSF CRCD program provided support to create a distributed interactive visual computing environment for research collaboration and curriculum development using Java and Web technologies, see With NSF PACI funding (CISE/ASC PACI NSF 96-31) we extended AtomView by first building the CAVE Collaborative Console (CCC) ( and then extending AtomView into this collaborative environment and creating CCC_atom, ( with funding from ONR. 1.2.2 CAVE Visualization of Biomolecular Structures Collaboration with NCSA: Pauline Baker and Randy Heiland (NCSA staff) developed the Immersive Docking (IDock) program for use in a CAVE. Virginia Tech installed IDock on the Virginia Tech CAVE and began the development of linking a 'PHANToM' haptic force feedback device with DIVERSE (Device Independent Virtual Environment Reconfigurable, Scalable and Extensible) ( Virginia Tech ASPIRES and NIST DIVERSE: Additional internal funding from ASPIRES provided support to develop a link between the PHANToM haptic feedback device and IDock using VRPN (Virtual Reality Peripheral Network, developed at the University of North Carolina. With additional funding from NIST, the DIVERSE API provided additional links needed to interface with existing PHANToM VRPN device drivers. On February 23, 2001 we successfully linked the PHANToM device running on a Windows workstation to a Linux workstation running DIVERSE. We can now confidently predict the operation of the PHANToM device linked to the IDock program running in the CAVE. This research constitutes a significant portion of Mr. Sanjiv Parikh's Ph.D. dissertation in Biomechanics in the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics. This system will also be used by NIST researchers for their nano-technology projects that will link the same PHANToM haptic device to I-Desks and nano-technology hardware for insitu fabrication of nanostructures. 1.3 RESEARCH: Human Computer Interaction (HCI) Collaboration with NCSA: Ms. Rachael Brady, co-creator of the Crumbs CAVE application for 3D visualization of radiological images, visited Virginia Tech, summer 1998, and worked with Dr. Deborah Hix and Master's candidate Mr. Kent Swartz on the HCI evaluation of the Crumbs CAVE application user interface. Mr. Swartz also visited NCSA where he continued to work with NCSA staff on Crumbs evaluation. Results were presented and published in the Proceedings of Virtual Worlds and Simulation Conference. Naval Research Laboratories (NRL): Dr. Hix's pioneering HCI research work with virtual reality researchers at NRL's Virtual Reality Laboratory includes an Immersive Work Bench (IWB) in the VE laboratory adjacent to the CAVE. Her research focuses on user application for battlefield visualization that runs on the IWB, in the CAVE and on a desktop, as well as another application for situational awarness of joint forces battlefield. DIVERSE is currently being used on the IWB with an eye-tracking system, see Figure 8. 3DI (3D Interaction) Group, Dr. Bowman's research also focuses on HCI and usability. Dr. Bowman was hired in 1999 as a tenure track assistant professor in Computer Science for his research in usability in VEs. Dr. Bowman has created a HMD work area as part of the VE laboratory in the ACITC adjacent to the CAVE. The DIVERSE API has been used to build the JIVE (Just In a Virtual Environment) for usability evaluation ( Mr. Wingrave's Master's thesis, 'Optimizing Virtual Environment Selection Techniques with Machine Learning' will be published on the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Web site, Spring Semester 2001. JIVE is used for development and evaluation of VE interfaces in this Masters thesis. Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Drs. J. Carroll, M. Rosson, and R. Kriz co-advised Mr. Kevin Curry on his Masters thesis, 'Supporting Collaborative Awareness in Tele-immersion', ETD: which focused on issues in the development of the CAVE Collaborative Console (CCC) and was later funded by NSF PACI. Dr. Carroll is the director of the Center for Human Computer Interaction (CHCI) ( 1.4 RESEARCH: Real-time Large Scale Physics-Based Simulations in the CAVE ONR DURIP & NAVCIITI and NIST: The most significant CAVE related VE research project was funded by ONR and NIST to develop the DIVERSE API, This project was not originally proposed in the NSF ARI proposal but was motivated by difficulties in development of collaborative VE applications with existing CAVE software that was used in the development of CCC and CCC_atom (previously mentioned in sections 1.2.1 & 1.2.2). ONR provided additional DURIP (Defense University Research Infrastructure Program) funds to extend an existing ONR MURI (Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative) to build a real-time physics-based simulation of a virtual Navy crane-ship in a CAVE (PI Dr. Ali Nayfeh). For this project DURIP funds were used to install a motion base in the floor of the CAVE, see Figures 4 and 5. This real-time CAVE simulation is used to design future 'smart' crane-ships where it is necessary to include the human-in-the-loop in the design of a system where large payloads can be safely transferred from ship-to-shore or even ship-to-ship under simulated high sea states. Such a system required a fundamental redesign of CAVE software that included a 'Device Independent Virtual Environment' design philosophy which incorporated a variety of different hardware devices in a remote shared memory architecture. An essay of the DIVERSE Toolkit ( provides a more detailed explanation of the DIVERSE Toolkit design philosophy. The DIVERSE graphics interface to SGI's Performer is a separate but complementary component of the DIVERSE API funded by NIST. Performer was chosen because our group could quickly develop a graphical interface that would work across a heterogeneous network of computer hardware: CAVEs, I-Desks, IWBs (Immersive Workbenches), HMDs (Head Mounted Displays), and Linux Intel-based workstations. Funding from the Navy ONR NAVCIITI proposal will create a DIVERSE graphics interface to OpenGL, to be delivered Fall 2001. The most significant feature of the DIVERSE API is that, unlike most VE development software, DIVERSE is licensed GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) and GNU General Public License (GPL). The philosophy behind LGPLand GPL DIVERSE is to facilitate a wider participation of the VE community to collaborate, co-develop, and become co-owners of a new device oriented VE API. DIVERSE has already been successfully used to develop new VE applications both on- and off-campus. 1.5 EDUCATION: Training Education and training was targeted in the ARI proposal as a significant factor for scientists and engineers to use and develop virtual environment applications. 1.5.1: NCSA Training: Jongran Lee, a Ph.D. student in Interior Design at Virginia Tech attended the first Visual Supercomputing Institute -I (VSI-I) at NCSA August 1996. From this experience Ms. Lee developed her Ph.D. dissertation on 'Comparing the Effectiveness of Computer Simulation on Computer Monitor vs. Virtual Reality as Communication Tools in Interior Design', , which included the design of the ACITIC CAVE research lab. Dr. Kriz attended VSI-II (September, 1996). Joan McLain-Kark, Dennis Jones, John Kelso and Ron Kriz attended VSI-III (August 1997). Dr. Kriz coordinated his Scientific Visual Data Analysis class ESM4714 with the NCSA CAVE Boot Camp Training (December 3-7, 1997) so that Virginia Tech graduate students working on AtomView with Dr. Farkas could further develop AtomView as their class project. 1.5.2: Virginia Tech Training & Education: Education: ESM4714, Scientific Visual Data Analysis and Multimedia: An introduction to CAVE programming was introduced into the existing Scientific Visual Data Analysis Class ESM4714. Since this class was project oriented, students were encouraged to develop CAVE related projects. Class projects can be accessed at There were four CAVE class projects in 1997, three in 1999, and six in 2000. CAVE Student Led Users Group (SLUGs) Training: The SLUGs provided CAVE training with Web pages for students (February 1999) at CCC started as a CAVE SLUG project. Training K12 Instructors: Two introductory classes on 'VRML in the CAVE Collaborative Console' were offered at Virginia Tech (June 1999) for instructors from the Virginia Governors School and at the NCSA Access Center (March 2000) for instructors from the Maryland Virtual High School (MVHS). Class notes are posted on the Web at Education: CS5984, Designing Virtual Environments: Dr. Doug Bowman created the first course at Virginia Tech that specifically addresses the design of virtual environments with a focus on HCI and usability evaluation ( Training: Advanced CAVE Workshop: Dr. Lance Arsenault and Mr. John Kelso participated in the Advanced CAVE Workshop Series at Old Dominion University, September 17-19 where DIVERSE was presented and demonstrated on SGI and Linux workstations and a CAVE. Training: Advanced Visual Computing Workshop: The ACITC CAVE and VE laboratory area will be fully functional summer, 2001. DIVERSE will be installed on 25 Linux workstations. A workshop on advanced visual computing is scheduled to be taught in August 2001. Topics will include: VRML & 3D-Models to CAVE, HCI User Interface Design, DIVERSE & VTK APIs, and Clustering. Education: Scientific Modeling and Visualization Classroom (SMVC): Three proposals to build ACITC facilities were submitted in 1996: 1) NSF ARI Acquisition of a CAVE, 2) Co-sponsored Sun Microsystems, Inc. and Visual Numerics, Inc, 'Breaking Barriers in Education and Research with Distributed Visual Computing' (objective was to build the SMVC), and 3) NSF CRCD 'Computer Simulation of Material Behavior -- From Atomistic to the Continuum Level'. All three were funded. The SMVC was used for CRCD classes and a number of other classes and training workshops prior to relocation in the new ACITC. 1.6 EDUCATION: Software Development The CAVE Collaborative Console (CCC): CCC, previously mentioned in the research section of this report, was also developed to be used for education and distance learning by two Virginia Governors Schools: 'Extending the Use of Collaborative Virtual Environments for Instruction in K-12 Schools' ( Because CCC was built with CAVERsoft, Limbo, and the CAVElibs, CCC is a Performer-based software application that only runs on SGI computers. Hence for this project it was necessary to purchase SGI computers. SGI donated one SGI O2 computer and matching funds for a second SGI O2 computer came from the Institute for Connecting Science Research to the Classroom (http://www/ The awareness tools in CCC were developed by Mr. Curry as part of his Master thesis. Awareness tools, such as 'Shared-View' and manipulation of simple molecular structures on desktop CAVE-simulators, were designed in collaboration with the Virginia Governors School instructors. Hence CCC was a user-centered-design application. The CCC was also developed in collaboration with EVL's Jason Leigh, Limbo author. CCC added awareness tools to Limbo to enhance collaboration ( Because guidelines set by PACI Team-C encouraged collaboration between PACI team members with CAVE technology, Virginia Tech chose Limbo to develop both CCC and CCC_atom for both research and education. PACI Team-C focused on 'Enabling Technology (ET) Data and Collaboration'.

2.0 MAJOR FINDINGS AND RESULTS FROM AUGUST 1996 TO FEBRUARY 2001: 2.1 CAVE Acquisition, Construction, and Operation: - Partnership with NCSA was essential to the success of this project. Once the CAVE system was shipped and received it took about a year before a temporary site was available that provided necessary access to on- and off-campus partnerships originally proposed. A temporary site was necessary because the ACITC building was not scheduled for completion until 2000. Once this site was acquired, the construction, hiring, and an operational CAVE were completed quickly, as outlined in Section 1.1, 'CAVE Chronology of Events'. CAVE systems are not commercial-off-the-shelf systems that can be setup and maintained with traditional technical computing support staff. The necessary overhead knowledge needed for the successful construction and operation of a CAVE came from our NCSA partners. In partnership with NCSA, Dr. Kriz was invited to spend the summer of 1997 at NCSA, prior to the construction of the CAVE at Virginia Tech. From this visit Dr. Kriz acquired the knowledge and experience needed for hiring CAVE personnel and getting the CAVE operational. CAVE construction was contracted by Pyramid Systems Inc. In retrospect, the time spent and knowledge and experience obtained at NCSA that summer was invaluable. Acknowledgment goes to Dr. Tom Defanti and Mr. Bill Sherman for assisting Virginia Tech with the computer configuration, and to John Shalf and Tom Coffin for answering endless questions and who organized a special CAVE training workshop at the end of the summer for Virginia Tech faculty. Special acknowledgment goes to Dr. Larry Smarr, Director of NCSA, whose original letter of support for this proposal and whose philosophy of access and partnership provided the foundation for a successful project. - Technical support staff was critical to successful CAVE operation. Although we hired qualified CAVE operation personnel (see the next section), adequate part time system administration personnel was not fully realized. This continues to be a primary challenge with CAVE operation. 2.2 CAVE access: - A user friendly environment was essential to developing CAVE applications. Many CAVE users have commented on how well the CAVE was setup up for access. This was largely due to hiring a well qualified CAVE Research Associate, Mr. John Kelso. He created simple to use procedures to improve CAVE access and remote on-site support at satellite CAVE labs to promote collaboration. This included providing customized interfaces that allowed CAVE users access to essential CAVE functions such as resetting tracker daemons, killing existing CAVE programs and freeing CAVE processes -- all of which would have otherwise required system root access. Mr. Kelso also setup a video recording system for CAVE users to record their CAVE sessions on video tapes. Mr. Kelso had also helped create the 'GLUE' project at the University of Maryland, where hundreds of UNIX workstations were 'glued' together into a shared network environment. This experience facilitated work with our on- and off-campus remote-site VE labs. These user friendly interfaces not only made the CAVE more usable but also enhanced development of CAVE applications. In addition, Mr. Kelso worked with faculty to create the HCI labs in the Department of Computer Science. This experience contributed to HCI goals set in this ARI proposal. A summary of Mr. Kelso's first year's job performance provides details of essential requirements for CAVE operation at Mr. Kelso's Masters thesis in computer graphics from George Washington University (advisor Professor James Foley) provided the necessary experience to be co-developer and co-author of the CAVE DIVERSE API with Dr. Lance Arsenault (discussed in section 2.4). - Students played an important role in developing CAVE applications. A direct result of the open access and user friendly environment was the formation of the CAVE Student Led Users Group (CAVE SLUGs), see From this student organization several significant results were realized, including the CAVE Collaborative Console and an Introduction to CAVE Programming. Another example of and undergraduate SLUG participation was by Ms. Caitlin Kelleher who created a virtual astronomy workshop in the CAVE, simulating the behavior of a black hole for training physics students, see Her undergraduate honor's thesis on this work was entitled 'AVE Development of Astronomy Visualization'. Ms Kelleher was also awarded Honorable Mention in the National Computer Research Association honors for Outstanding Undergraduate Research, in 1999. - Remote VE lab sites played a supportive role in developing the CAVE facility. In the NSF White Paper that preceded the NSF ARI CAVE Acquisition proposal, participating faculty shared a common goal: to create a connection between the CAVE, remote sites, and existing desktop software unique to their disciplines. For example, Architecture created the Research and Demonstration Facility (RDF) Virtual Environment Lab (VELab) ( The VELab has a one-wall projection system with head tracking. The Department of Interior Design created the Interior Design Futures Laboratory (IDFL) at The IDFL has an SGI Octane (MXI) running the CAVE-Simulator. Other labs such as the Center for Modeling Simulation in Material Science (CMSMS) acknowledge the CAVE facility as a tool associated with their research ( Entomology developed VRML files on a variety of insects used on educational web sites that could also be viewed in the CAVE. These are shown on their 'Cyber-Insects in the CAVE' Web site Other CAVE related projects are listed under 'On-Campus Partnerships' on our CAVE Web page, and in the section on 'Other Collaborators' in this report. Very few of these applications represent much more then simple VE walk-thrus. This reflects a beginners knowledge and skill level of CAVE programming, significant nevertheless, considering the diversity and number of disciplines and level of interest. If the university continues to support the CAVE facility, these existing CAVE applications will mature in complexity, but their success will be judged by the content within that discipline, not if the project is SIGGRAPH worthy. It is interesting that both the IDFL and RDF-VELab refer to their respective labs as CAVE remote site or CAVE satellite Labs. Considering the diversity of disciplines and that the majority of VE development is accomplished at these remote site labs, perhaps it would be more accurate to view the CAVE facility as a shared remote site in the same sense that a regional hospital is a shared resource when needed. We observed that the total immersive environment of a CAVE is not often needed, but it is invaluable when the researcher/educator deems it necessary. Even if it is only a simple 'walk-thru'. Hence, the CAVE facility depends on the collective need for immersive virtual environments as it relates to existing use of 3D graphics within each discipline and especially at the desktop. Simple 'walk-thrus' are not to be played down. Like 'beauty', the immersive VE experience is 'in the eye of the beholder'. 2.3 CAVE training / education: - There never seemed to be enough training on how to use the CAVE. Although ESM4714 and CS5984 provided an educational framework for students to learn about virtual environments, the fact that both classes emphasized class projects was significant in developing CAVE applications within the discipline of the student. CAVE related class projects (97/99/00) for ESM4714 are listed at CAVE related class projects for CS5984 are listed at student_projects.html. In both of these courses we encouraged students to work with professors on existing research or education projects. For example, CCC started as a class project in CS5734 Computer-Supported Cooperative Work which later became an NCSA PACI funded project. These classes focused more on educational goals, not training. What was needed were classes devoted to training students on how to program in OpenGL or Performer. For training we recommended that students and faculty take focused classes provided by off-campus commercial vendors such as SGI or SUN Microsystems. Since the mission of a university is to educate and not train, this remains a fundamental problem inherent at most universities. The only training realized was when we participated in the Advanced CAVE Workshop at Old Dominion University, October 2000. For beginners we taught a two day workshop on 'VRML and the CAVE Collaborative Console' to the Virginia Governors School, June 1999 and again to the Maryland Virtual High School, March 2000. In both cases these classes were extremely successful based on the comments from the high school instructors even though the limit of their use of CCC was a simple CAVE 'walk-thru'. For both training sessions high school instructors strongly encouraged us to organize another training session for their students. For the Virginia Governors School this training provided a 'teach-the-teachers' component for the proposal, 'Extending the Use of Collaborative Virtual Environments for Instruction to K-12 Schools'. Results of this project have been posted at In retrospect more could have been accomplished had we organized more training sessions on a variety of software tools such as VTK, Performer, and OpenGL that would have provided training beyond the beginners level. Now that ACITC classrooms are available for instruction and training, some of the ARI CoPIs hope to exploit these resources for education and training. For some faculty, however, the problem remains to train ourselves first. - Regardless of access to CAVE training, faculty who are not in computer science typically choose not to learn how to program in VEs. Although CAVE programming workshops were offered at NCSA and Virginia Tech, in the last 3.5 years of CAVE operation at Virginia Tech only two faculty learned how to build CAVE applications that were more then a simple CAVE 'walk-thru'. Typically faculty outside computer science defer to their graduate student who can build sophisticated CAVE applications. But of course their experience leaves when they graduate. This pattern is largely due to the fact that senior faculty, who are not in computer science, do not have the background and perhaps more important the time to learn how to program in virtual environments. With all of the demands on how faculty manage their time, a major cultural change must first take place that will reward faculty, outside computer science to learn how to program in virtual environments. Perhaps this is more easily done with new faculty who already have a programming background and then this problem will be solved by attrition. The CAVE was also used, to a limited degree, for two classes ESM4984 & ESM5984 which were created for NSF 'Combined Research and Curriculum Development (CRCD): Computer Simulation of Material Behavior - From the Atomistic to the Continuum Level', EED-9700815, In these two classes students learned the theory of material behavior at the nano-scale, micro-scale, and macro- (continuum) scale and used computer simulation modelsto study the theory of material behavior at the different scales. Students used Java Web-based interactive modules to access the computer simulations and viewed simulation results with Web browser plugins or in the CAVE if full immersion was prefered ( Results of this combined research and education project were published by Kriz et al. and listed in the 'Publications and Products' section of this report. 2.4 CAVE Research: Targeted SV Application Areas: 2.4.1 AtomView and CCC_atom (Drs. Diana Farkas, CoPI and Ron Kriz, PI): - AtomView was effectively used in the CAVE, but Windows tools were used more at the desktop, because they were cheaper and more accessible. AtomView was used extensively by Dr. Farkas to interpret supercomputer simulations results. Dr. Farkas used AtomView in the CAVE when she needed to study very complex 3D structures, but most of the time 3D tools on PC Windows computers were more accessible. Although AtomView ran on Dr. Farkas's SGI Octane workstation, the larger simulation models ran too slowly because her workstation lacked sufficient texture memory. These particular results required a more expensive ($30K) SGI Octane MXI model. To view these results she reserved time in the CAVE where she could view results of the larger models. In the CAVE Dr. Farkas eliminated FCC atoms of the grain so that she could view only the atoms along the grain boundaries. The remaining atoms observed along the grain boundaries experienced a stacking fault as the result of a partial dislocation emission. With AtomView this stacking fault can be observed in an animation where an atom color changes from gray to red ( This example and others were published by Farkas et al. in six journal articles listed in the 'Publications and Products' section of this report. The CAVE was used routinely by Dr. Farkas in her research on design of ceramic nanostructures as indicated by her numerous publications. On two occasions Dr. Farkas arranged for a visiting scientist, Dr. Helena van Swingenhoven from the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, to view these results in the CAVE at Virginia Tech. To enhance the use of AtomView for collaboration, Dr. Kriz combined AtomView with CCC and created CCC_atom that would allow Dr. Farkas and Dr. Swingenhoven to collaborate with their SGI desktop computers. However since this required the use of high end SGI Workstations, less expensive PC Windows computers and tools were preferred. In conclusion, while the immersive environment of AtomView in the CAVE provided insight for the interpretation and analysis of supercomputing simulation results, visualization software that runs on less expensive PC Windows desktop computers was also used for interpretation of simulation results. Now that the CAVE facility is more accessible by faculty on-campus we anticipate increased use, however the use of Windows PC computer tools will continue to be an important visual tool. Unfortunately visualization tools used on PC Windows computers do not connect with applications that run on the SGI CAVE computer. Future funding is now available to rewrite the DIVERSE API (Application Programming Interface) that will run on SGI and future Windows operating system -- linking these two resources. 2.4.2 Biochemistry / NIST Nanoscale VE Technology (Drs. David Bevan NSF-ARI CoPI and ASPIRES PI / Ron Kriz, NIST PI): Activities on 'CAVE Visualization of Biomolecular Structures' were already outlined in section 1.2.2. Results are only summarized, because this research is in-progress. Two funding sources, VT-ASPIRES and NIST, funded us to link the PHANToM force feedback device with the Immersive-Docking (IDock) VE application. We now have a working prototype that uses DIVERSE & VRPN to link the PHANToM device running on a Windows Intel PC to two simulated spheres. Using DIVERSE, one sphere is located in shared memory on a Linux Intel PC and the second sphere is located in shared memory on an SGI deskside Power Onyx running the IDesk. These results will be presented at the Virginia Tech Workshop on Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, March 19, 2001. This fall 2001 we expect to replace the spheres with actual biochemistry molecules in IDock running on an SGI Power Onyx Rack in the CAVE. This will complete our proposed research funding for VT-ASPIRES. For NIST, our second year funding will be applied to linking the PHANToM device to remote site nanotechnology devices used to fabricate nanostructures and to a visual simulation of these nanostructures running on an IDesk. 2.5 Future development of CVEs for research and education: - Collaborative VE tools are rarely used because they run only on IRIX. Collaborative VE tools such as Performer-based CCC are rarely used becausePerformer runs only on IRIX and Linux and the underlying graphics are proprietary and expensive. Until collaborative tools run on desktop Intel computers running the Windows operating system, only a small group of researchers will use tools such as CCC or CCC_atom. The one exception was the K12 project with the Virginia Governors School, but this only happened because SGI and ICRSC provided the necessary SGI computers. Future development of GNU/Linux offers a possible solution. Recently the GNU/Linux operating system, like Windows, runs on Intel computers but is licensed LGPL (GNU 'Free' software). With some effort in reprogramming, CCC and CCC_atom could run on less expensive Intel computers. Since cost is a factor for researchers like Dr. Farkas, it was not surprising that educators are even more sensitive to costly software APIs. CoPIs writing the K12 CCC proposal were reluctant to use VE software that might break the budget. There are now a variety of GNU-GPL/LGPL licensed VE software APIs. One excellent example is the Visualization ToolKit (VTK) that runs on the CAVE-Lib desktop simulator and DIVERSE. DIVERSE, like VTK and GNU/Linux, is licensed LGPL which is not commercially supported software. We support the CAVE-Libs because some organizations require that software be commercially supported, but with GPL/LGPL we now have a choice. Although GPL/LGPL is 'Free', this software is not commercially supported, hence, programmers accept responsibility. If it doesn't work, they fix it, and redistribute the improvement 'freely'. Given enough time this 'free' model can produce some impressive software like the GNU/Linux operating system that is very reliable even though it is not commercially supported software. Using GNU-GPL/LGPL software is not for the faint-of-heart if the software is relatively new. GNU/Linux, however, is a mature product that started over 10 years ago. New software like DIVERSE is just starting out so we recommend DIVERSE only for experienced VE programmers. With GNU/Linux and LGPL licensing of DIVERSE the VE community can chose to become co-developers and hence co-owners of the DIVERSE VE API. Presently we are being funded by ONR to extend the current DIVERSE graphics interface to Performer (DgiPf) to OpenGL (DgiGL) which then has the potential to run on Linux and the Windows operating systems. When realized this fall 2001, this new VE API will add new life to collaborative VE tools running on Intel desktop computers. - DIVERSE --- 'The Glue', but only for experienced VE programmers. DIVERSE can run on Intel computers because SGI recently ported Performer to GNU/Linux. Until DgiGL is completed this fall 2001, 'freely' available collaborative tools like CCC and CCC_atom will be available much later. Because 'freely' implies not commercially supported, the CCC user community must be experienced VE programmers. Give this user community up to 10 years and perhaps CCC and CCC_atom will be mature and ready to be used by the scientific and academic community who are not experienced programmers. With this concept as motivation, our group, the Center for Virtual Environments and Visualization (CVEV), is committed to building the DIVERSE graphics interface to OpenGL (DgiGL) which is funded and scheduled for beta release this fall 2001. The Performer based DIVERSE 1.01 API is currently available at and we welcome co-development and co-ownership. With the current Performer based DIVERSE API we have been funded by Lockheed Martin Astronautics Group to move the collaborative awareness tools from CCC to DIVERSE. At that time we will re-explore future funding for rewriting CCC_atom so that researchers like Dr. Farkas and educators like the Virginia Governors School can avoid the high cost presently associated with both hardware and software. 2.6 HCI Results (Drs. Jack Carroll and Deborah Hix): HCI results on 'Usability Evaluation Techniques: A Novel Method for Assessing the Usability of an Immersive Medical VE' have been published in the conference proceedings of Virtual Worlds and Simulation Conference. The creation of the CCC was also an HCI project that was published as Mr. Kevin Curry's Masters thesis on the Virginia Tech Electronic Thesis and Dissertation ETD) Web pages.

Training and Development:
Since one of the major objective was training, discussion on training is embedded through out the 'Project Activities/Findings' section of this report.

Outreach Activities:
Outreach Activities is also included in the 'Project Activities/Findings' section of this report.

Journal Publications:
Van Swygenhoven H, Farkas D, and Caro A, "Grain-boundary structures in polycrystalline metals at the nanoscale", PHYS REV, vol. 62, (2000), p. 831. Published
Farkas D, "Bulk and intergranular fracture behaviour of NiAl", PHILOS MAG A, vol. 80, (2000), p. 1425. Published
Farkas D, "Atomistic studies of intrinsic crack-tip plasticity", MRS BULL, vol. 25, (2000), p. 35. Published
Farkas D, "Fracture mechanisms of symmetrical tilt grain boundaries", PHIL MAG LETT, vol. 80, (2000), p. 229. Published
Van Swygenhoven H, Spaczer M, Farkas D, et al., "The role of grain size and the presence of low and high angle grain boundaries in the deformation mechanism of nanophase Ni: A molecular dynamics computer simulation,", NANOSTRUCT MATER, vol. 12, (1999), p. 323. Published
Van Swygenhoven H, Spaczer M, Caro A, et al., "Competing plastic deformation mechanisms in nanophase metals", PHYS REV B, vol. 60, (1999), p. 22. Published
Kriz, R.D., Farkas, D., Batra, R.C., "Integrating Simulation Research Into Curriculum Modules on Mechanical Behavior of Materials: From the Atomistic to the Continuum", J. Materials Education, vol. 21, (1999), p. 43. Published
Gabbard, J.L., Hix, D., and Swan, J.E., "User-Centered Design and Evaluation of Virtual Environment", IEEE J. Computer Graphics & Applications, vol. 19, (1999), p. 51. Published
Kriz, R.D., Farkas, D., Batra, R.C., "Using Materials Resources on the World Wide Web for Introductory Materials Science Teaching", J. Materials Education, vol. 21, (1997), p. 43. Published

Book(s) of other one-time publications(s):
Lee, J, "Comparing the Effectiveness of Computer Simulation on Computer Monitor vs. Virtual Reality as Communication Tools in Interior Design" , bibl. etd-030599-172018, (1998). Thesis Published
of Collection: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, "Electronic Thesis and Dissertation"
Curry K., "Supporting Collaborative Awareness in Tele-immersion" , bibl. etd-072099-120203, (1999). Thesis Published
of Collection: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, "Electronic Thesis and Dissertation"
Gabbard, J., Swartz, K., Richie, K., and Hix, D., "Usability Evaluation Techniques: A Novel Method for Assessing the Usability of an Immersive Medical VE" , bibl. Proceeding of Virtual Worlds and Simulation Conference (VWSIM'99), (1999). Conference Proceedings Published
Leigh J., Johnson, A.E., DeFanti, T.A., Brown, M. et al., "A Review of Tele-Immersive Applications in the CAVE Research Network" , bibl. Conference Proceedings of IEEE Virtual Reality '99, (1999). Conference Proceedings Published
Hix, D., Swan, E., Gabbard, J., McGee, M., Durbin, J., King, T., "User-Centered Design and Evaluation of a Real-Time Battlefield Visualization Virtual Environment" , bibl. Proceedings of IEEE Virtual Reality '99, (1999). Conference Proceedings Published
Curry K., "Supporting Collaborative Awarness in Tele-Immersion" , bibl. 3rd International Immersive Projection Technology Workshop, (1999). Conference Proceedings Published
Swartz, K., Thacker, U., Hix, D., Brady, R., "Evaluating the Usability of Crumbs: a case study for VE usability methods" , bibl. The 3rd International Immersive Projection Technology Workshop, (1999). Conference Proceedings Published
Kriz, R.D., Levensalor, R., Parikh, S., "Combined Research and Curriculum Development of Web and Java Based Educational Modules with Immersive Virtual Environments" , bibl. International Conference on Building University Electronic Educational Environments, (1999). Conference Proceedings Published
Kriz, R.D., Levensalor, R., Parikh, S., "Interactive Scientific Visual Data Analysis using Java, PV-Wave, and IMSL" , bibl. Conference Proceedings of the 'Visualization Development Environments 2000, (2000). Conference Proceedings Published

Other Specific Products:

Software (or netware)
Brief Software Desciption: 

1. Device Independent Virtual Environment: Reconfigurable, Scalable, 
   and Extensible (DIVERSE): A general SGI Performer based VE API 
   that was used develop VE applications in the CAVE, IDesk, IWB, 
   desktop IRIX & Linux workstations and laptops.

2. Just In a Virtual Environment (JIVE): JIVE is a VE application 
   built with the DIVERSE API that was developed for research in HCI 
   interface evaluation and usability.

3. Atomview: An SGI Performer based VE application used by material 
   science research to visualize and interpret supercomputer 
   simulations of nano-structure physics based models.

4. CAVE Collaborative Console (CCC): A general collaborative VE that 
   links desktop workstations, IDesk, IWBs, and CAVEs into a shared 
   working ('design') environment.  CCC is an SGI Performer based 
   application, that was built on top of CAVERNsoft and Limbo in 
   collaboration with the NSF PACI project.

5. CAVE Collaborative Console Atomview: A Performer based VE 
   application that specifically linked CCC and Atomview to enhance 
   collaboration between material scientists.
Each software item listed above has a Web site where the software can
be downloaded and installed with tutorials and examples.  These Web
sites are respectively:

1. Device Independent Virtual Environment: Reconfigurable, Scalable 
   and Extensible (DIVERSE):

2. Just In a Virtual Environment (JIVE):

3. Atomview:

4. CAVE Collaborative Console (CCC):

5. CAVE Collaborative Console Atomview (CCC_atom):

Internet Dissemination:

This Web site provides links to all know CAVE related activities
both on- and off-campus


Contributions within Discipline:

 - Virtual Environments (VEs) are inherently multi-disciplinary.

At Virginia Tech the acquisition of a CAVE has prompted interest from
many disciplines, because independent of the discipline, we all share
a common need which is to explore  complex three-dimensional (3D)
structures.  CAVE technology allows each discipline to explore 3D
structures in full immersion which can, and often does, lead to
insight in new structure property relationships.  How each discipline
uses VEs to explore these structures is unique.  How a CAVE virtual
environment can contribute to the base of knowledge, theory, and
research and pedagogical methods within that discipline is also
unique.  Comments below will apply to all disciplines in general, not
how VEs benefit each discipline uniquely. 

 - Researchers/educators typically do not realize the full potential 
   of a CAVE application because they lack the necessary programming

The full potential of a CAVE VE is only realized when an expert in
that discipline creates content so that, within that context,
exploration and possible insight can occur.  Building meaningful
content is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for exploration
and insight in the CAVE.  Within each discipline collecting and
organizing the content, although important, is not where the problem
is encountered.  There are two major issues that can prevent the CAVE
application from being successful: 

1) Most discipline experts cannot program in virtual environments, 
2) Discipline experts who can program (they are rare) typically 
   cannot design usable interfaces.  

The inability to program is perhaps the most common and limiting,
because if one cannot program and build a CAVE interface the second
point is academic.  Typically discipline experts are professors,
however professors chose not to learn how to program applications in
the CAVE, even if training is offered (see 'Major Findings and
Results).  Instead they defer to their students who eventually leave
and take their programming knowledge with them.
Creating teams is a solution, where professors with the programming
skills work with discipline experts who build meaningful content,
along with HCI and usability researchers.  This would be 'the dream
team'.  But these teams are rare and although collaboration is
discussed positively, it is not rewarded by academia in general.  At
Virginia Tech we attempted to build such a team and targeted specific
application areas.  Our three original target areas were: 1) ceramic
nanostructures, 2) biochemical structures, and 3) ceramic composites.
 We realized limited success with 1) and 2) and are committed to build
on this success.  

With funding from ONR MURI/DURIP/NAVCIITI another SV application was
identified: physics based simulation of a Navy crane-ship.  Dr. Lance
Arsenault, Ph.D. in physics and experience in VE prototype programming
with Caterpillar at NCSA, worked with Professor Ali Nayfeh, the
discipline expert in the Department of Engineering Science and
Mechanics. They teamed with Mr. John Kelso, whose experience is in
graphics, HCI ,and usability in CAVE VEs.  This particular project is
in progress and is scheduled to be completed this spring 2001 now that
the motion platform is built into the CAVE floor, see Figures 4 and 5
in prjact.pdf file.

 - Shared VEs from desktop to CAVE and across heterogeneous 
   operating systems offer a new potential for distance learning 
   and collaborative research.

For all disciplines we believe the highest potential for success is
shared collaborative VEs that link participants across heterogeneous
operating systems (Windows, IRIX, Linux, MacOS-X) that scale from the
laptop, desktop, Head Mounted Displays (HMDs), to IDesks, IWBs, and
CAVEs.  As discussed in the section on 'Major Findings and Results' we
have a plan to begin the creation of this 'diverse' environment.

Contributions to Other Disciplines:
Since our equipment acquistion project objectives were to apply CAVE
technology to all disciplines the topic of 'Other Disciplines' has
already been explained in the previous section on 'Contribution within

Contributions to Education and Human Resources:
On two separate occasions we provided exposure to science and
technology for pre-college teachers, young people, from: 1) the
Central Virginia Governor's School at Lynchburg and the Central
Shenandoah Valley Regional Governor's School at Troutville, and 2) the
Maryland Virtual High School (MVHS) in Silver Spring, Maryland.  In
both cases we organized a two day training workshop for the high
school instructors with the intent to 'teach the teachers' how to
develop CAVE content using VRML desktop 'free' software and then how
to load their content into the CCC.  With the two Virginia Governor's
schools we were funded by Silicon Graphics Inc and the Institute for
Connecting Science Research to the Classroom (ICSRC) to buy the
necessary equipment to develop K12 curriculum based on CCC. Results of
this project, 'Extending the Use of Collaborative Virtual Environments
for Instruction to K-12 Schools', have been summarized at  For the MVHS the same VRML and the
Collaborative CAVE Console training session was incorporated into the
Academic Global Excellence Summer 2000 program.  In both cases the
'teach the teachers' training was extended for a select group of
students from the two high schools.  Training and results are posted
on the Web at

Contributions to Resources for Science and Technology:
The CAVE acquisition is part of the University Visualization and
Animation Group (UVAG) of the Advanced Communication and Information
Technology Center (ACITC) at Virginia Tech.  The ACITC is now located
in a new building at the center of the Virginia Tech Campus, see Figure 1 in the prjact.pdf file.  The
ACITC is a joint state and private funded building that is a regional
resource for research and education that is part of our reach mission
as a Virginia land grant university.  The UVAG is one of several
information technology activities: Digital Libraries, Human Computer
Interaction, High Performance computing, Institute for Distance
Learning, etc. are all located in the ACITC, see and also

Contributions Beyond Science and Engineering:
When the CAVE first opened in February 1997 at the Virginia Tech
Corporate Research Center (CRC), a new privately owned company,
Virtual Prototyping and Simulation Technology Inc., not affiliated
with Virginia Tech, established offices next to the UVAG offices in
the same building.  The CRC site, as previously mentioned, was a
temporary site until completion of the ACITC building.  

During the three years at the CRC, the UVAG worked with VPST on a
variety of projects.  UVAG and VPST collaborated on a proposal funded
by Virginia Center for Innovative Technology on 'Infrastructure
Development and Planning Project to Explore the Benefits of a
Collaborative Virtual Environment in Virginia Universities and
Businesses', (  

VPST served as the university industrial affiliates program and
coordinated industrial access to the CAVE UVAG facility.  VPST was
closely affiliated with a private company in Sweden called Prosolvia,
which went out of business in 1999.  VPST also went out of business
shortly after Prosolvia went out of business.  

Prior to working with VPST, Dr. Ron Kriz continues to work with other
computer software companies, i.e. Visual Numerics Inc. (formerly IMSL)
based in Houston, Texas. Visual Numerics continues to support our Java
web technology projects and is a co-sponsor with Sun Microsystems of
the Scientific Modeling and Visualization Classroom which is part of
our UVAG/CAVE facility.  Presently our industrial affiliates program
exists by working with the university development officers, who are
identifying collaborations with Virginia based industries interested
in collaborative virtual environments.  The DIVERSE API funded by NIST
(U.S. Department of Commerce) has the potential to be an e-commerce
tool with the GNU-GPL/LGPL licensing philosophy previously described
in the project results section.

Download and View Activities PDF File Figures

Please contact Ron Kriz at: for more information
Last Revision March 17, 2001