The computer-driven Virtual Showcase is a half-mirrored
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The computer-driven Virtual Showcase is a half-mirrored

May 4, 2010
The computer-driven Virtual Showcase is a half-mirrored, conical chamber fitted with numerous projectors and lighting controls into which fossils are placed. Up to two users stand outside of the showcase and wear special glasses while the researchers control the lighting and projected graphics, creating a 3-D illusion of flesh and muscle enveloping original bone. The showcase will enable paleontologists to communicate their research results to a novice audience in an exciting and effective way.

This research was funded by NSF grants DBI 99-74424 (awarded to Stephen M. Gatesy) and IBN 96-01174 (awarded to Lawrence M. Witmer).

For further information about this research including a short film about the augmented reality process used with the Deinonychus skull in this series of images, see the NSF News Tip story "Augmented Reality Brings Dinosaurs into the 21st Century," dated October 22, 2002. [Image 1 in a series of 6 images; see also, Augmented Reality Steps 1 through 5.]

More about this Image The Virtual Showcase uses stereoscopic, 3-D overlays in combination with synchronized audio and light effects, as "augmented reality" storytelling tools. Augmented reality (or AR) enables researchers to "paint" fossils with digital soft tissue and muscle and create dynamic models that reveal how dinosaurs may have looked, walked and attacked their prey.

The paleontology applications of AR were developed by NSF-supported researchers Stephen Gatesy of Brown University and Lawrence Witmer of Ohio University, in collaboration with Oliver Bimber of Bauhaus University in Germany, and colleagues at the Mitsubishi Electronic Research Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Fraunhofer Center for Research in Computer Graphics in Providence, Rhode Island.

Using the predatory dinosaur Deinonychus as a test subject, the researchers used AR to determine where powerful jaw muscles may have attached to the animal's skull and hypothesized where muscle, skin and other parts would fit, based upon observations of closely related modern animals. This information, along with a 3-D scan of the fossil, were stored in a standard desktop computer. The computer drives the "Virtual Showcase."

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