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Visitors DiVE into Virtual Reality at Duke

New features in the Dive enhance the virtual reality experience for scholars and students. Photo by Jane Neeley

Changes have come to DiVE that is making its virtual world even more real. And that's good news for Duke scholars and students.

After being closed for renovations during the fall semester and much of the spring semester, the Duke Immersive Virtual Environment is now equipped with higher resolution projectors, shutter glasses and other improvements designed to give greater realism.

At an open house Tuesday, visitors to the DiVE tried out the new equipment, using 3D lenses and a hand wand to walk through and control objects in a virtual kitchen, interact with virtual characters and visualize different dimensions of the human brain.

David Zielinski, the DiVE's research and development engineer, said the human brain is designed for 3D.

“We have millions of years of our brains learning how to interact with a 3D world,” said Zielinski. “We only have been interacting with the world with two-dimensional things in the last couple of hundred years.” 

The DiVE is used by faculty and students from a large number of fields, including chemistry and biology to history and art. Recent uses have virtually reconstructed ancient Roman communities, as well as medieval towns.

Heather Liu, a rising senior double majoring in biomedical engineering and electrical and computing engineering described her experience as new and unusual.

“It’s an application of all the things you learn in class,” said Liu. “It’s good to see the application of engineering.”

DiVE is open to public use Tuesdays from 4 to 5 p.m. Space is limited. The DiVE welcomes students who are interested in getting involved in virtual reality development and research. Interested students should contact DiVE director Regis Kopper to learn more.

Shakira Warren is a rising junior at NC Central University who is working this summer as an intern at the Office of News and Communications.