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3D Technology to Drive Research Breakthroughs

3D may be hot in Hollywood thanks to recent box-office smashes such as
Avatar and Alice in Wonderland, but for Monash University the technology will assist researchers and students to achieve new levels of understanding of complex data.

3D ALIVE (Applied Laboratory for Immersive Visualisation Environments) was launched on 1 July at Monash University's Clayton campus by Deputy Secretary of the Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Dr Richard Aldous.

The 3D ALIVE facility consists of a 3D stereo display achieved from dual rear projection, plus a real-time motion tracking headset, providing a powerful virtual reality work space in which the user can stand and manipulate a 3D data model in real-time using a wand.

"3D ALIVE will allow students and researchers across science, medicine, engineering and other disciplines to immerse, explore, question and evaluate endless scientific concepts, no matter how complex," said Professor Louis Moresi, who along with Dr Margarete Jadamec helped to establish the facility.

"Geoscientists will be able to explore massive spatially varying data volumes, such as global models of earthquake hypocenters, from a perspective which places the viewer inside a 3D Earth ... as demonstrated at the launch," said Facility Manager Dr Margarete Jadamec.

"Unlike simply viewing a 3D movie, the user is able to quite literally 'step inside' the large digital model of the earth, and examine movement in the subduction zones of 100km-thick tectonic plates, for example."

Vice-Chancellor Professor Ed Byrne said he was delighted to host the launch of the project together with CSIRO Group Executive, Manufacturing, Materials and Minerals, Dr Steve Morton, and believes the initiative will deliver significant benefits to both Monash University and its partners. Dr Morton also praised the ongoing partnership between the CSIRO and Monash University.

The launch was well-attended by representatives, researchers and students from the partners in the project including the CSIRO, AuScope, Monash Geodynamics, School of Mathematical Sciences, School of Geosciences and the Monash e-Research Centre. The project also involved overseas collaboration with W. M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in the Earth Sciences (KeckCAVES) at the University of California, Davis USA.

The 3D ALIVE facility is designed for groups of two to 15 people and will be open for researchers collaborating on 3D models for presentations requiring 3D data rendering and for laboratory style teaching.

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