NSF-funded CI-TEAM projects
Our CI-TEAM Implementation Projects develop an interdisciplinary research environment for preparing a cyber-enabled workforce in the geosciences, computer science, science and technology studies, anthropology, and physics. We engage students in interdisciplinary teams to jointly develop, use, and disseminate cyber-infrastructure (CI) tools and techniques using virtual reality (VR) and scientific visualization for research and education across three interdisciplinary themes.
The ongoing project builds on knowledge and experience we have gained over more than a decade of interdisciplinary collaboration at the KeckCAVES, which provides both a fertile environment for interdisciplinary research and uniquely interactive, immersive virtual reality environments that allow users to visualize and analyze large and complex datasets.
DIRE: Dynamic Interdisciplinary Research Environment to Engage and Develop a Cyber-Ready Workforce in the Geosciences, Social Sciences, and Computer Sciences
This project developed an interdisciplinary research environment for preparing a cyber-enabled workforce in the geosciences, computer science, science and technology studies, anthropology, and physics. The project engaged students in interdisciplinary teams to jointly develop, use, and disseminate cyber-infrastructure (CI) tools and techniques using virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) in scientific visualization for research and education across three innovative interdisciplinary themes.
Science and Technology Themes
Remote Collaboration: The team has developed and used innovative methods of tele-immersion technology to enable remote interaction with shared datasets between teams of people at different locations, to facilitate research and teaching collaboration. In the process of this development, students gained knowledge and insight into the behavior of VR and immersive visualization.
Rapid Response to Natural Disasters: The team has developed CI capacity for rapidly collecting, visualizing, and interpreting data collected after major geologic events such as earthquakes and landslides. Student teams responded to events that occurred during the project period, including the Haiti and El Mayor-Cucapah (Mexico) earthquakes. This capacity will contribute to our knowledge of the geologic processes driving earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides and other catastrophic events.
3dCompare: Teams developed the capacity to manipulate and quantitatively compare digitally represented objects using interactive CI methods for use in diverse applications including 3D digital scans of buildings, cultural heritage sites, and archaeological, geological, and paleontological samples.
The methodologies developed for this project contributed to development of an Augmented Reality Sandbox (AR Sandbox), an open source project for education and outreach which has been disseminated to more than 300 science centers, small museums, schools, and informal educational settings.
The project contributed to the development of a diverse, cyber-enabled workforce by engaging undergraduates and graduate students in the use of virtual-reality-based technology for discovery-based scientific research. Scientific results have been distributed through journal publications and conference proceedings. Software developed during the course of the project was released under free, open source licenses and is disseminated through the KeckCAVES website.
Education and Outreach
Our CI-TEAM project contributes to the development of a diverse, cyber-enabled workforce by engaging undergraduates and graduate students in the use of virtual-reality-based technology for discovery-based scientific research. We engage students and postdocs across disciplines to co-develop CI tools for their own research and that of their peers, and to develop a cohort of cyber-enabled scientists and software developers with experience working on interdisciplinary teams. Participants in our project have the opportunity to participate in collaborations with US and international partner institutions.
We develop, with our CI-TEAM students and postdocs, innovative, high-quality learning technologies and instructional materials that are broadly adoptable by multiple disciplines and institutions. We disseminate these technologies and methods by providing software under the GNU General Public License; disseminating software tools and documentation, and publishing educational modules, documentation, and research and educational outcomes to facilitate the use of the tools. We provide visualization experiences to established, effective STEM outreach programs that effectively target K-12 students.
The CI tools developed through our CI-TEAM efforts enable research and teaching advances in three critical areas: study of virtual objects, remote collaboration between various groups and agencies, and rapid scientific response to natural disasters. The development of these technologies could become vitally important in assisting multinational agencies to make sound decisions based on complex data.
* Immersive visualization in informal learning environments
The tools developed by this partnership have been used in Science centers and museums, including our partners at Tahoe Environmental Research Center, Lawrence Hall of Science, and the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain.
* In The Classroom CI-TEAM tools have been used in Geology classes for majors and in general education classes.
* The Augmented Reality Sandbox The methodologies developed for this project contributed to development of the Augmented Reality Sandbox (AR Sandbox), an open source project for education and outreach which has been disseminated to more than 300 science centers, small museums, schools, and informal educational settings.
* Inclusion in STEM: Outreach project The project Outside_the_Vortex is an arts collaboration and outreach project that explores exclusion and inclusion in STEM.
Team senior personnel
This project supported the continued development of several software packages that are key to the overall operation of the KeckCAVES, and also directly tied into this project’s education and training goals.
Vrui The Vrui VR toolkit is the foundational software infrastructure underlying all KeckCAVES applications. A virtual reality operating system of sorts, it enables writing high-performance and high-quality VR software once, and running it on the multitude of different VR and non-VR display systems in use across research and education environments. Specifically, the CI-TEAM project supported development of Vrui modules that made Vrui run on (then) low-cost VR environments, which were crucial in deploying KeckCAVES software to partner sites without access to high-end VR equipment before the advent of today’s low-cost VR headsets.
Tele-Collaboration The Tele-Collaboration Infrastructure is an optional add-on module to Vrui allowing users from multiple geographic locations to enter and collaborate in shared virtual spaces for research and education purposes. Using this infrastructure, users can look at and analyze datasets together, annotate data using shared 3D drawing tools, talk to each other via group audio, and see each other as 2D or even 3D pseudo-holographic avatars. This project supported development across several areas of this infrastructure, specifically group audio, 2D video support, and integration with several project-related VR applications.
Kinect 3D Video Package The Kinect 3D Video package is an optional add-on module to Vrui’s Tele-Collaboration Infrastructure, enabling the real-time capture and transmission of pseudo-holographic 3D video from several models of 3D video cameras, including all versions of Microsoft’s Kinect, to embed users’ bodies into shared virtual spaces. With the Kinect 3D Video Package, users can see each other as life-size, dynamic, 3D representations supporting natural social interaction across geographical distances.
LiDAR Viewer is a VR application for the interactive exploration and analysis of large-area and high-resolution 3D scans of natural or man-made environments. This project supported development of a non-interactive point-based computing framework that can be used to process large data with custom geometric or statistical analysis functions. As part of this project’s education and outreach component, an interface to write point-based processing functions in the Python programming language was added to enable Earth science researchers without intimate knowledge of the C++ programming language to write their own problem-specific analysis functions.
3D Visualizer is a VR application for the interactive exploration of 3D volumetric data, such as produced by 3D volumetric (CAT, MRI, etc.) scanning or numerical computation. This project supported development of a collaboration component, tying 3D Visualizer into Vrui’s tele-collaboration framework for remote shared data analysis.
Crusta is a VR virtual globe application similar to Google Earth, but focused on Earth science users importing their own high-resolution topography and image data, and creating geologic maps by drawing directly onto the topographic surface. Crusta was developed by a then-PhD student of the UC Davis Department of Computer Science, working closely with Geology graduate students, post-docs, and researchers.
Vroom is a high-level programming framework for developing immersive virtual reality applications. It is written in python and uses the Vrui (Virtual Reality User-Interface) library. The goal of vroom is to make it easy to visualize and interact with 3D data and simulations. It is available on Github.
A selected list of publications produced about or with the use of KeckCAVES technology is available here. We are always looking to update our list; please let us know about new publications and products.
The NSF awards search engine shows publications resulting directly from this award.
Webpages and blogs
Doc-Ok.org A Developer’s Perspective on Immersive 3D Computer Graphics
Oskin blog about 2014 Napa earthquake
Augmented Reality Sandbox
2010 Haiti Earthquake Rapid Response using LIDAR data – this earthquake predates the CI-TEAM award but provides some background on how we learned to respond.
Complexity Sciences Center
Follow members of the CI-TEAM team on social media
@keckcaves – The official account of the KeckCAVES, including the CI-TEAM project.
@arsandbox – The Augmented Reality Sandbox
@okreylos – Computer Scientist Oliver Kreylos talks about building holodecks for a living
@sumnerd – Geologist Dawn Sumner on research in Antarctica, on Mars, microbial mats, nonlinear science, and life as a scientist.
@mikeoskin – Geologist Mike Oskin exploring the physics of earthquakes and landscapes
@louisekellogg – Geophysicist Louise Kellogg on computational geophysics research and scientific visualization
@TTremblingEarth – UC Davis KeckCAVES alumnus Austin Elliot talks earthquakes and related science
UC Davis KeckCAVES CI-TEAM members and alumni: We are continually updating our connections. Please let us know if you’d like us to add your social media presence to this page
This project was supported by NSF Award OAC-1135588: CI-TEAM Dynamic Interdisciplinary Research Environment to Engage and Develop a Cyber-Ready Workforce in the Geosciences, Social Sciences, and Computer Sciences
Previous work was supported by NSF Award OAC-0753407 CI-TEAM: Enabling Interactive Visual Exploration and Remote Collaboration for the Geosciences and Physical Sciences