The Interactive DataWall (IDW) is a computer-driven, high-definition display, large enough to be visible simultaneously to multiple observers, that presents information from multiple sources and exploits advanced techniques of human/computer interaction and data fusion. The IDW originally was intended for collaborative use by a group of Air Force decision-makers who must consider large amounts of dynamic information (e.g., information pertinent to targeting during battle). Sources of displayed and otherwise utilized information can include sensors on terrestrial vehicles, sensors aboard satellites, databases, and video feeds from remote locations.

The Interactive DataWall provides a large, nearly seamless display of information from multiple sources. Multiple collaborating users can interact with the displayed information.

The IDW has progressed through several evolutionary versions and continues to undergo development in the Advanced Displays and Intelligent Interfaces program of the Air Force Research Laboratory. In its present form (see figure), it includes three liquid-crystal- display-based video projectors, each having a resolution of 1,280 x 1,024 pixels. These projectors are mounted side by side to form a nearly seamless single image of 3,840 x 1,024 pixels in a screen 12 ft. wide by 33 ft. high. The resulting single composite or mosaic display can be regarded as an extended desktopcomputer display.

The development of the IDW has involved utilization of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and software, leveraged by the use of custom hardware and software as needed. In every evolutionary version thus far, the IDW display has been driven by a single central computer system configured with either multiple graphics cards or multi-output graphics cards. Each graphics-card output constitutes a highresolution source for each tile of the display. Windows can be repositioned and resized anywhere on the display. Windows that originate from multiple sources can be projected across boundaries between projectors. Windows can be maximized to fill the entire display. Many application windows can be run simultaneously on the DataWall computer; windows of current interest can be displayed in the foreground, in background, or minimized for rapid accessibility when needed.

A vital part of the IDW is the ability not only to display information from personal computer application software but also to accept multiple inputs from various sources. For example, the IDW architecture enables the acceptance of multiple live, dynamic video streams and the display of them in any tile in a rectangular array of such tiles. This ability to display information from multiple sources simultaneously in different areas of the screen is made possible by use of three external video processors connected to the central DataWall PC system and of a custom windowing software system, called “Fenestra” (Latin for “Windows”), which leverages COTS video overlay hardware to enable the display of both live high-resolution computer video and low-resolution National Television System Committee (NTSC) video sources. A number of decision-makers can interact within the display environment simultaneously via multiple cursors generated by a collection of networked application computers. Collocated application computers can also be controlled within the display space.

A custom laser pointer input device can function similarly to a wireless computer mouse. A live video image of the display surface is processed to determine presence and position of the laser dot on the screen to enable the user to interact with the information displayed. The computer cursor can be controlled to coincide with the laser dot, and mouse buttons on the laser pointer device can be used to perform the same control actions as those of mouse buttons. With voice input via a cordless telephone, wireless control also can be exerted by use of speech-recognition hardware and software.

This work was done by Peter A. Jedrysik and Rebecca C. Alvarez of the Air Force Research Laboratory. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.defensetechbriefs.com/tsp under the Electronics/Computers category. AFRL-0017


This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Interactive DataWall

(reference AFRL-0017) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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Defense Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the August, 2007 issue of Defense Tech Briefs Magazine.

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