The new George W. Donaghey Foundation Emerging Analytics Center is combining Big Data and 3D virtual reality.

Students at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock could be attempting a complicated medical procedure. Or they could be touring a building they are designing. Or perhaps they’re watching a car accident play out in real time.

All of this is potentially taking place on the same floor of the university’s Engineering and Information Technology (EIT) building – and none of it is real.

The campus’s new George W. Donaghey Foundation Emerging Analytics Center is combining Big Data and 3D virtual reality in a $5 million project that the university and Arkansas hope can make sense of the monstrous amount of data at researchers’ fingertips, and attract more business to the state. The project was funded by the George W. Donaghey Foundation.

“The idea was to build a center that would truly allow you to take these large data sets that are available and convert them into a visualization that will allow you to understand what that data means,” said Mary L. Good, the center’s director.

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Big Data is the buzzy phrase used to describe the massive and exponentially growing volume of information constantly being created around the world. The data sets are so large and unwieldy that it’s impossible to process all of it, let alone make sense of that information, using traditional means.

Companies like IBM, with the creation of its supercomputer – and Jeopardy champ – Watson, have been investing millions in finding ways to harness and understand this vast amount of data, and many institutions are doing the same.

See Page 2 for how the university’s new center can help visualize all this data.


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