Overview / Introduction

The Portal™ is a completely immersive virtual reality system. It consists of a six-sided cube that is suspended above the ground. Each side of the cube (the walls) including the floor and the roof acts as a virtual reality screen. Six high-power projectors project 3D images onto the walls. The Portal can accommodate up to five people at a time, giving them the illusion of being immersed in a virtual reality world. Because of its high degree of realism, the Portal can be used for simulations, analysis of designs, interactions with Santos as well as experimental studies.


Current applications include interactive analysis of CAD designs. With advances in CAD technology, realistic renderings of vehicles can be created on the computer.  These CAD designs can then be transferred to the Portal where the user is immersed in 3D geometry of a CAD design, say a tank, which gives the user a visualization of the completed geometry. This capability is unprecedented because it allows the user to experience the feeling of exploring the real world tank without actually building the tank. 

The portal has also been used for medical applications. Two-dimensional medical data from CT scans can be stitched together to form a complete 3D rendering of the scans. CT scans are essentially snapshots of different cross sectional slices of the body.  A method has been developed to put these snapshots together and interpolate (stitch up) areas that are not captured or incomplete to create a 3D object that the user can manipulate, fly around, fly through,  etc. Imagine being able to explore a lung, fly through it, and find a tumor. This has both educational and diagnostic implications.

The Portal has also been used for rendering complete massive environments such as a city. This allows users to fly around a city and get views from previously inaccessible vantage points in the real world. It is a great test for those who are afraid of heights. One can fly up to the top of a building and literally walk up to the edge of the building and fly off. Virtual humans can also be placed in the virtual city for interaction with real-world humans.

Technical Specifications

Portal Dimensions

3m x 3m x 3m cube with opening door
6 projection walls with ½ inch Plexiglas
Built on a wooden frame with thickness varying from 3- 4 inches 

Projector Specifications

Christie Digital Mirage 2000 (link)
2000 Lumens
300:1 contrast ratio
SXGA 1280x1024, 16.7 million colors
15kHz to120 Khz horizontal frequency
24Hz to 108 Hz vertical frequency

Computer Specifications

Base Unit: Dell Precision T7400 Mini-Tower, Quad Core Xeon Proc X5450, 3.00GHz, 2X 6MB L2 Cache,1333MHz

Processor: 2nd Processor, Quad Core Xeon Proc X5450, 3.00GHz, 2X 6MB L2Cache,1333MHz  

Memory: 4GB, DDR2 ECC SDRAM Memory 667MHz, 4X1GB, Dell Precision T5400

Monitor (6): Dell UltraSharp 1908FP Flat Panel with Height Adjustable Stand,19.0 Inch VIS

Video Card: nVidia,Quadro FX 5600, 1.5GB dual VGA or DVI 

Hard Drive: 300GB 3Gbps SAS, 15K RPM Hard Drive, 3.5 Inch

Hard Drive Controller:C17 All SAS Hard Drives Non- RAID for 4 Hard Drives  

Operating System: WINDOWS XP PRO SP2