New center allows researchers to ‘stand inside’ Big Data

For universities, it could mean finding improved methods of learning and predicting student behavior. For businesses, it could mean better understanding trends and the market. For doctors and hospitals, quickly sorting through big data could lead to faster and more accurate diagnoses.

For the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, it may be about all of the above. But how exactly will the new Emerging Analytics Center help make sense of all that information?

Building upon earlier 3D data visualization systems the university had attempted, the new center is made up of 35 monitors and screens connected to the university’s computation research center. Users will be able use the screens to visualize the data they are studying.  The crown jewel of the project may be a room that the university calls “the cave.”

The system, which is technically called the EmergiFLEX and is produced by the Mechdyne Corporation, is a 10-foot-tall wall comprised of 24 screens that can be moved around to surround anyone using it. Underneath the user is a similar screen making up the floor. The images displayed on the screens become 3D when the user dons a pair of red glasses.

A smaller, mobile version of “the cave” is also available in the center.

“Whether it’s medicine or manufacturing or whatever it might be, there’s endless applications for this technology to be able to actually see what you’re going to be doing or how you’re going to be building something or conducting something or constructing something,” Arkansas governor Mike Beebe said during a press conference earlier this month. “It’s available in virtually every application. It’s mind boggling that the technology has gone that far.”

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