July 27, 2004
11.7-foot, high-resolution screen on display at homeland security demo
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Researchers are showcasing a new type of large high-resolution display this week that promises to have applications in everything from TV news production to homeland security and home theatres to higher education.
The prototype was developed by Thomson, a leading technology provider for media and entertainment companies, with assistance from Purdue engineers. It is being demonstrated Tuesday and Wednesday (July 27-28) during a three-day program featuring homeland security simulations aimed at improving how officials respond to terrorist attacks.
The Thomson display will be running from around 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday in Rawls Hall, Room 3013. Because the screen is large, 11.7 feet wide by 6.7 feet high, yet has very high resolution, it could be used by researchers viewing scientific simulations and homeland security experts viewing satellite imaging, said Lauren Christopher, general manager of corporate research at Thomson.
"This is a technology you have to see to believe," Christopher said.
To continue work on the technology, researchers at Purdue, Thomson and the University of Notre Dame have applied for funding from the Indiana 21st Century Research and Technology Fund, established by the state to promote high-tech research and development and to help commercialize innovations.
The prototype uses four separate projectors to display a single image onto the large screen. Innovative software allows the four separate projections to be blended together so that no seams are seen between adjacent segments, joining the four images into a single picture with higher resolution than regular television sets. Other large-screen displays use separate tile-like segments to create one image, but the boundaries between each tile can clearly be seen.
"The Thomson display has no visible seams, even though there are four separate projectors, each one projecting a different part of a scene," said Edward J. Delp, a professor in Purdue's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering who has been involved in work to develop software for the new technology.
This particular display also includes a computer, which runs an algorithm that gets rid of overlapping regions between adjacent projections, eliminating the seams in the process.
Delp is one of the researchers who spearheaded the proposed 21st Century-funded project, which would be headed by Zigmunt Pizlo, a professor of psychological sciences at Purdue.
The new displays could be used for future "digital cinema," in which films are stored entirely on a computer's hard drive and then projected onto a large screen for audiences.
The technology also represents a major step from conventional home theater systems, which have only one projector and one-quarter the resolution of the Thomson prototype.
The high-resolution displays would be ideal for showing detailed scientific and medical images and defense-related satellite imaging. The display being demonstrated at Purdue has the projectors mounted in the rear, which enables scientists and homeland security experts to walk right up to the screen to get a close-up view of the images.
"This design is ideal if you need to have high-resolution satellite imagery and have it displayed on a very large screen so that you can have many people standing in front of the screen and talking about what's going on while panning and zooming in on the image," said Gary Bertoline, associate vice president for discovery resources for Information Technology at Purdue and a professor of computer graphics technology in Purdue's School of Technology.
The display has resolution capability better than that of new high-resolution TV cameras, meaning it could replace a bank of current cathode-ray tube monitors used in TV news production that are becoming obsolete because they can't match the resolution of the new cameras. Several separate camera views could be displayed at the same time on the large screen for TV news producers and editors, said Christopher, who received a doctoral degree in electrical and computer engineering from Purdue in 2003.
Thomson is demonstrating the new display in conjunction with a program by Purdue's Homeland Security Institute, which will present a supercomputer-based simulation of a terrorist attack for local, state and federal officials. Such simulations are designed to help officials practice and coordinate efforts to respond to real attacks.
The simulation will be shown on a "tiled display" in Purdue's Envision Center for Data Perceptualization, and officials will be invited to view the Thomson display so that they can compare the difference in resolution quality.
"You could do command and control, you could do satellite imagery, you could do just about anything you want with it," Christopher said. "Rear projection allows you to walk up literally within inches of the screen and see detail."
Thomson worked closely with Delp, Purdue's Silicon Valley Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Raj Arangarasan, visualization research coordinator in the Envision Center, to bring the display to campus and coordinated the high-resolution contents for the homeland security simulations.
Thomson has a long history of working with Purdue through 21st Century grants. The work, some of which is ongoing, has included research to develop methods for transmitting high-quality entertainment video over the Internet, creating better wireless technologies and developing advanced video compression techniques for surveillance applications.
The display will be taken down after the homeland-security program, but Bertoline said Purdue is striving to have such a display installed on a more permanent basis as part of the pending 21st Century-funded project.
"Purdue's and the Envision Center's roles would be to try to find a spot to put this projection equipment, and then to do further development, refine the technology, refine the algorithm and look at various applications, such as those in science and the entertainment industry," Bertoline said.
Christopher said the prototype was made possible through the partnership between Thomson and Purdue.
"We've got a good working relationship between industry and education," Christopher said. "We are able to work on projects jointly and get input and another set of eyes and another group of people giving some fresh ideas and turning these things into real products."
Writer: Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Gary Bertoline, (765) 494-0541, email@example.com
James Harper (Thomson public affairs contact), (317) 587-4347, firstname.lastname@example.org
Edward J. Delp, (765) 494 1740, email@example.com
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; firstname.lastname@example.org
Note to Journalists: A publication-quality photograph will be available online or by contacting Emil Venere at (765) 494-4709, email@example.com. Journalists also can shoot photos or video from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday (7/28) in Rawls Hall, Room 3013.