Mississippi RiverWebSM Museum Consortium

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UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN
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Geographic Modeling
Systems Laboratory

Funded by the

National
Science
Foundation
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Supercomputing Applications
 
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Functionality: Introduction


In developing the Digital River Basin with the museums, the NCSA-GMSlab team considered alternative hardware and software strategies and technologies. A primary goal was that the computational, graphical display and human-computer interface technologies would permit individual or small groups of museum visitors to interact as intuitively and directly as possible with the content without the intrusion of "traditional" input devices such as keyboards or mice.

Computational hardware limitations and pedagologic considerations led us to forsake graphics photorealism in the visual representations of the river basin features and processes in favor of more dynamic renditions capable of supporting greater interactivity and feedback as visitors explored the DRB data and engaged in activities. We sought to take full advantage of progressive advances in computer technology, particularly the availability of commodity processors, inexpensive graphics cards, and the Linux operating system to realize major gains in performance relative to cost.

We envisioned that a large format, horizontal common display would attract individual or small groups of visitors and afford them opportunities to investigate phenomena throughout an entire stretch of the river and its adjoining floodplain. Adjacent touch screen console displays networked to the common display would enable visitors to "move" through and investigate 3-D graphical representations of the river basin and support in-depth inquiries into its physical, ecological, and cultural properties. What emerged from all these considerations was the hardware configuration shown below.

Digital
River
Basin
Hardware
Configuration
Hardware Configuration

 


© 2003 University of Illinois Board of Trustees
Last modified: July 10, 2003