The Virtual Environment Research, Interactive Technology, And Simulation (VERITAS) facility is owned and operated by Wright State University and housed in the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton Ohio. The mission of the facility is to support basic and applied scientific research on sensory systems, aviation, teleconferencing, telerobotics, and virtual environments. The central component of the facility is a CAVE®, a room-sized virtual environment presentation system controlled by a cluster of Wintel computers. High-performance projectors can display stereoscopic images on the 10’ by 10’ rear-projected screens that make up the four walls and the front-projected floor of the CAVE®. Step inside the CAVE®, put on the stereoscopic glasses and stereophonic headphones, and the high-resolution, 360° 3-D video and audio displays can put you in pilot’s seat of a General Aviation aircraft, flying over a mountainous landscape or inside a protein molecule, exploring its matrix-like atomic structure.
Often, basic research findings discovered in a laboratory do not translate directly into real-world settings. Facilities such as the CAVE® help recreate real-life scenarios to test new cockpit displays, plan and practice military missions, design and test ground controls for uninhabited aerial vehicles, and develop telerobotic technology to repair satellites in space, to name just a few. These synthetic environments are designed to capture critical elements of a real-world application setting, while providing the researcher with sufficient control for rigorous scientific measurement and the ability to rapidly alter the test situation to evaluate new devices or to investigate new hypotheses. The goal is to create “virtual presence,” whereby you feel as if you’re actually in the “real environment,” interacting with it and manipulating it, rather than just watching.
Wright State is the lead research partner in the VERITAS facility, created in 1995 with a $1.6 million award from the Ohio Board of Regents (OBR) to study human-computer interaction. Subsequent funding from the Department of Defense enhanced the facility and helped to establish ongoing collaborations with AFRL. In 2002, Wright State was again named the lead institution in an OBR $800,000 Hayes Investment Award to upgrade the VERITAS facility, modernize its equipment, and add seven new virtual work environments in Dayton and Columbus. The project also explored the potential of Internet 2--an advanced, high-speed network linking research universities, government, and industry--to promote and enhance scientific research and collaboration. In 2009, the facility undertook another upgrade including new DLP projectors, mirrors, and image generating computers.
VERITAS provides an important bridge between basic research laboratories and product development/commercialization. Currently, a collaborative research project with the Human Effectiveness Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory is transferring 3-D audio technology developed in government laboratories for fighter aircraft to combat search and rescue applications.