Customer Story

Virtalis Turns University of the Western Cape into VR Hub

Christie Mirage WU7K-M active stereo 3D projectors rise to the challenge

Having been the first company in the EMEA region to specify and install Christie’s new WU7K-M projectors late last year, Virtalis are now finding further application — down in the Southern Hemisphere.

This 1920 x 1200 WUXGA, 6300 ANSI lumens active 3D stereo projector — with full 120Hz frame support — is now in use at The University of The Western Cape (UWC) in Cape Town’s Bellville district, following a funding arrangement between the University and British Petroleum (BP).

BP’s involvement in the project followed a worldwide search for a company that could both design and supply a Highly Immersive Visualisation Environment (HIVE) for UWC — which ended when the University met the Virtalis technical team. Funding for the project was the result of a matched arrangement between the two bodies.

Outlining the aspiration, Prof. Paul Carey, who holds the Chair of Petroleum Geology at UWC, and now takes on the directorship of the BP HIVE, explained, “We won’t be a stand-alone Virtual Reality (VR) facility. We are sited on top of the Department of Applied Geology, and a central Dell server — coupled with a dedicated optical fibre line — will link our 50 high-end, 3D modelling computers and our two-channel, tracked Virtalis ActiveWall with the postgraduate research suite. This in turn will connect us to the University’s multi-terabyte data storage system, enabling work with very large data sets.”

Prof. Carey stated that this is now the most advanced VR system in South Africa — and the two Mirage WU7K-Ms play an active role.

Purpose designed for advanced visualisation use, the Mirage projectors feature three modes of 3D input and supports native frame rate up to 120Hz at WUXGA resolution over Dual Link DVI-D, as well as frame doubled content for maximum source compatibility and high-performance, flicker-free operation.  With the addition of a second input module, the Dual Input 3D mode enables the display of a frame locked passive stereo source for high-performance active stereo at 120Hz without the need of a passive to active converter. The Christie Mirage WU7K-M also meets the mandatory 3D spec for HDMI v1.4a.

Incorporating dual 200WPviP® lamps, a dust-sealed engine, and embedded Twist™ module, the projector offers low cost of ownership with its long life dual lamps, automatic projector shut-down and adjustable power for cooling fans, and is housed in the smallest chassis in its class.

How useful these features are to Virtalis was encapsulated by their managing director, David Cockburn-Price, “Featuring a full 1920 x 1200 WUXGA resolution display, the stereoscopic image quality and reproduction exceed our expectations.”

However, Prof. Carey noted that Virtalis’ design goes way beyond specifying Christie M Series WU7 projectors and Dell workstations. “We realised pretty quickly that the Virtalis team is unique because it makes all this technology work together — even positioning the power sockets and advising on chairs and tables. We can always pick up the phone to them, knowing they are a company that builds long term relationships.”

The HIVE will draw data from various industry-standard software packages to create highly detailed virtual environments and models. The system uses Virtalis’ own GeoVisionary software, a tool which enables geoscientists to visualise, analyse and share large datasets seamlessly, in an immersive, real-time environment.Students using the HIVE will initially be reading for MSc’s and PhD’s in South African Petroleum Studies, and MSc’s in Petroleum Geology. However, it is expected that approximately 40% of HIVE’s time will be booked by commercial organisations, especially those with interests in petroleum, mining and land use.

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