Immersive Science

One year ago, at the Intel Developer Forum, I spoke about how as computing technology advances and broadband connectivity becomes ubiquitous, today’s nascent virtual worlds and online games will evolve into a “3-D Internet.” I believe that eventually these immersive connected experiences (as we call them) will become a primary mode for human interaction, ranging from simulated worlds used for collaboration, socialization, and entertainment to augmented realities like Google Earth that combine real-world imagery with the user-generated information. I’d like to share some recent progress we’ve made in this area.

Today, during a forward looking overview of next year’s Supercomputing conference, an ACM and IEEE Computer society sponsored event, Wilfred Pinfold (an Intel colleague and general chair of Supercomputing 2009) announced to the Supercomputing 2008 conference attendees plans to create a new virtual world called “ScienceSim.” Supported by Intel and the conference committee, this collaboration aims to use these immersive, connected environments to further cutting edge scientific research.

Primarily, we want to create a new tool that uses the unique features of virtual environments to facilitate education, collaboration, and understanding. The output of many supercomputing applications — from astronomical simulations to medical models — is complex and often highly visual. Creating a persistent, standardized environment where these models can reside will make it easier to share and explore these data sets with other researchers. Also, for educators, ScienceSim will provide an interactive 3-D environment that can be used to explain complex concepts such as gravity [see video below] in a highly intuitive manner.

(Video is screen capture images, no audio is included)

In addition, this world will provide an opportunity to innovate in these connected visual computing environments. Today’s virtual worlds are hindered by application scalability, computing, storage, and networking performance. The high performance computing systems that Intel and others deploy to host ScienceSim will become test beds themselves for system-level innovation. Also, because the world is based on the OpenSim open source world simulation platform, participants will be able to experiment with enhancements to the engine behind the world.

This work complements other efforts underway at Intel. In August we disclosed more details on how we intend to reinvent visual computing through our Larrabee microarchitecture and announced a research agenda to bring the richness of visual computing to connected usage models and improve the underlying technology for these immersive connected experiences. In October, we began mapping out a more specific Virtual Worlds Roadmap with partners including Samsung, The Electric Sheep Company, Digital Space and ngi group. Internally, we are exploring ways to enhance our future platforms in ways that remove technical barriers to the adoption of these applications.

Bringing immersive experiences to the Internet and other connected usage models is extremely compelling. This becomes even more interesting when you add small mobile devices and augmented reality into the mix – perhaps a good subject for a future blog. For today, I congratulate the ACM SIGARCH and IEEE Computer Society community for launching this effort. I look forward to attending virtually at SC’09.

8 Responses to Immersive Science

  1. jobi says:

    Checkout the Intel announcement regarding ScienceSim. Justin Rattner, Intel Senior Fellow and Intel CTO introduces the new program on bringing “Immersive Science” based on OpenSim platform at his blog site…

  2. A new interesting for all the defenders of OpenSim. But which is the opinion of Intel in the large security issues which hancidape still the platform? (example: non-existent data protection)

  3. jdm says:

    One of the other efforts going on at Intel that Justin didn’t mention directly: a co-development effort with Qwaq on a commercial, enterprise-class, virtual collaboration environment, based on the OpenCroquet architecture. Justin and Qwaq CEO Greg Nuyens demonstrated an early integration of Qwaq Forums and Intel Miramar onstage at the IDF Justin refers to in his first sentence. That effort is now coming to fruition, shipping to paying customers (of which Intel gets a royalty) in Q1’09.
    Miramar provides Forums an environment for working with documents in 3D, and in 2009 we will extend into data, with an extensible “visual analytics” platform, supporting popular visualization toolkits.
    It’s very exciting to see these technologies come to market, and the future for visualization and visual analytics (and visual computing in general) looks very bright. Many people don’t realize that Intel has been working in this space off and on for decades – the Miramar project originally ran from 1997-2001 in Intel Architecture Labs, and that was the capstone to five years work by a team in visualization and analytic methods.
    I do hope we stick with it this time – think how much farther along we would be now if we had stuck with it then!

  4. Richard Schreck says:

    Aye aye aye aye aye aye aye. Another secondlife “venture” that will end up doing nothing but occupying people who could otherwise be working on useful projects.

  5. Congratulations to Intel for its pioneering spirit, bravery, and courage to strongly invest in what can only be described as a “Second Life compatible” environment. For us evangelists, developers, and enthusiasts of everything SL-related, this is really encouraging news.
    In fact, the best news is understanding how Intel can pool their developer resources not into designing “cute environments that nobody visits”, but into code development that ultimately will benefit the whole community of SL users — and, even more importantly, releasing a product with strong educational content.
    I wish you all the good luck with ScienceSim and eagerly await more results!

  6. Josh Vincent says:

    Creating a more immersive internet experience will benefit everyone. Look how google has helped people navigate, offering 360 degree directions to destinations. Schools could in essence let students fully experience what they are learning, shared information for research purposes could be interactive, using CG models that can be manipulated, and studied on a more simultanious level. Hospitals could have interactive models of their patients, and share among doctors all over the world instantly, and cost effectivly to help treat ailing patients.

  7. Good to see that you as contributors of the opensim project also found usage and commence to experiment with the opensim software to set up new simulation environments. There is still a long way to go in the aspect of scientific experiments taking place in simulation environments but this is a step in the right direction.