University of California, San Diego researchers now have an up-close view of their work, aided by nearly 290 million pixels, after the school built what’s reportedly the highest-resolution screen in the world.

The California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), a research group affiliated with UC-San Diego, announced earlier this month that it has completed work on the Highly Interactive Parallelized Display Screen (HIPerSpace), which features 286.7 million pixels. The display is 31.8 feet wide and 7.5 feet tall, and it includes 14 columns of screens. The second-highest-resolution screen in the world, NASA’s hyperwall-2, has 256 million pixels. San Diego’s record setter is 30 percent bigger than the university’s last high-resolution display, officials said.

Within days after unveiling the HIPerSpace display, research groups from a myriad of disciplines have used the screen to enhance images essential to their work. Researchers can view their largest data sets–which often are too large to display on a standard high-resolution screen–and can zoom in on the smallest details with unrivaled clarity, campus officials said.

For instance, a UC-San Diego team recently visited Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio–a premier gothic palace in Italy–and laser scanned the hall, essentially making a copy of the area. Researchers at Calit2 have now developed a computer model that allows viewers to see all 2.5 billion data points that comprise the Palazzo Vecchio in real time.

The display is expected to aid and accelerate research into the structure and functions of the human brain, seismic activity, and climate change predictions, among other fields. Using the ultra high-resolution screen could be particularly important to the study of climate change, researchers said, because global warming computer models have been called into question in recent years. In 2007, a study that used NASA’s weather satellites concluded that climate change will include fewer droughts than previously predicted. The study also claimed that flooding would be more prominent than previous computer models had shown.

This isn’t the first time an American university has delved into the world of ultra high-resolution displays. In 2004, Purdue researchers helped develop a high-resolution screen that measured 11.7 feet wide by 6.7 feet high. That screen has been used for TV news production courses at Purdue and for homeland security purposes, among other functions. The Purdue screen has about four times the resolution of a typical television screen, but nowhere close to the resolution of UC San Diego’s display.

HIPerSpace features 70 high-resolution, 30-inch displays from Dell Inc., arranged in 14 columns of five displays each. Each individual display, or "tile," has a resolution of 2,560 by 1,600 pixels–bringing the combined visible resolution to 35,640 by 8,000 pixels.

Falko Kuester, principal investigator of the university’s HIPerSpace system, said creating the world’s highest-resolution screen was just a step toward a larger goal targeted by researchers.

"The higher-resolution display takes us more than halfway to our ultimate goal of building a half-billion pixel-tiled display system to give researchers an unprecedented ability to look broadly at large data sets, while also zooming in to the tiniest details," Kuester said.

Links:

University of California, San Diego

California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology