Researchers from Purdue university have demonstrated a new type of large high-resolution display that promises to have a range of applications in everything from home theatres to to higher education. The screen is massive by current standards, with a viewing area 11.7 feet wide by 6.7 feet high, yet has very high resolution, and hence could be used by researchers viewing scientific simulations and homeland security experts viewing satellite imaging.
The prototype was developed by Thomson with assistance from Purdue engineers and was demonstrated on July 27-28 during a seminar featuring homeland security simulations aimed at improving how officials respond to terrorist attacks.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
"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.
PHOTO CAPTION: Edward J. Delp, at left, a Purdue professor of electrical and computer engineering, demonstrates a new large, high-resolution display with William Mengel, a consulting engineer for Thomson, a leading provider of technology and services for media and entertainment companies. The display was showcased on Tuesday and Wednesday (July 27-28) during a three-day homeland-security program for federal, state and local officials.
The program included simulations aimed at improving how officials respond to terrorist attacks. The prototype, developed by Thomson with assistance from Purdue engineers, 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. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)
"This is a technology you have to see to believe," said Lauren Christopher, general manager of corporate research at Thomson.
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.