The Duke immersive Virtual Environment (DiVE) came on-line in 2006 representing the fourth 6-sided CAVE-like system in the United States. The DiVE is a 3m x 3m x 3m stereoscopic rear projected room with head and hand tracking and real time computer graphics. All six surfaces – the four walls, the ceiling and the floor – are used as screens onto which computer graphics are displayed. The DiVE offers a fully immersive experience to the user, who literally walks into the virtual world. The user — typically a researcher, educator or student — is surrounded by the display and can interact with virtual objects. Stereo glasses provide depth perception, and a handheld “wand” controls navigation and virtual object manipulation.
The DiVE represents a substantial investment that provides an unparalleled interface between humans and digital worlds. It is precisely the cost and scarcity of this resource that compels researchers to leave their offices and engage in a larger community. Facilities like the DiVE are “watering holes” that bring people together and foster their awareness of one another’s research. Examples of impacts of emergence of rare technical resources on fostering intellectual cross-pollination across distinct sub-specialities exist in all areas of science, such as the phenomenon of large telescopes attracting diverse teams of astronomers and particle accelerators serving as communal spaces for high-energy physicists. However, unlike these domain-specific examples, all researchers require visualization in some form or other. The DiVE is a shared resource that excites the imagination and unites faculty and students from all disciplines.