A Survey of Large High-Resolution Display Technologies,
Techniques, and Applications
Greg S. Schmidt2
Oliver G. Staadt3
1Department of Computer Science, Virginia Tech∗
23D Virtual & Mixed Environments Lab, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory†
3Department of Computer Science, University of California, Davis‡
4Pacific Northwest National Laboratory§
Mark A. Livingston2
Continued advances in display hardware, computing power, net-
working, and rendering algorithms have all converged to dramati-
cally improve large high-resolution display capabilities. We present
a survey on prior research with large high-resolution displays. In
the hardware configurations section we examine systems includ-
ing multi-monitor workstations, reconfigurable projector arrays, and
others. Rendering and the data pipeline are addressed with an
overview of current technologies. We discuss many applications for
large high-resolution displays such as automotive design, scientific
visualization, control centers, and others. Quantifying the effects
of large high-resolution displays on human performance and other
aspects is important as we look toward future advances in display
technology and how it is applied in different situations. Interacting
with these displays brings a different set of challenges for HCI pro-
fessionals, so an overview of some of this work is provided. Finally,
we present our view of the top ten greatest challenges in large high-
A.1 [General Literature]: Introductory and
Survey— [H.5]: Information Systems—Information Interfaces and
Presentation H.1.2 [Information Systems]: Models and Principles—
User / Machine Systems
Large high-resolution displays, visualization, virtual
environments, multi-monitor, projector array, distributed rendering,
collaboration, user interfaces, interaction techniques, evaluation
With technological advances, large high-resolution?displays are be-
coming prevalent in many fields. From multi-monitor configura-
tion to tiled LCD panels to projection-based seamless displays, re-
searchers have been constructing large displays with various hard-
ware configurations. Two common features of such displays are in-
creased physical size and higher resolution. Researchers, however,
have encountered numerous technological difficulties with building
large-format high-resolution displays, especially with tiling com-
merciallyavailableprojectors intoaseamless display landscape. Ac-
cordingly, they have proposed a number of techniques to address
those fundamental problems and matured the construction of large
Meanwhile, researchers have been designing and implementing
software toolkits that support large high-resolution displays. A sin-
gle PC workstation is far from sufficient to drive a display made up
of more than ten monitors or projectors. It is now common to use a
PC cluster, a set of computers connected via a high-speed network,
for rendering on large high-resolution displays. Cluster rendering
algorithms and systems have been interesting to computer scientists,
and distributed rendering software as well as data streaming archi-
tectures have been made available to the public.
As an emerging technology, large high-resolution displays have
been widely applied in various domains. The increasing popularity
of large high-resolution displays  is paralleled by booming re-
search efforts in addressing a fundamental question: how do users
benefit from increased size and resolution? Many intuitively believe
that large displays automatically outperform small ones. It is desir-
able, however, to understand why increased size and resolution are
advantageous, and how we benefit from large high-resolution dis-
plays in accomplishing general or domain-specific tasks. Quantita-
tive and qualitative experiments have been conducted, gathering em-
pirical evidence to demonstrate the relationship between the chang-
ing visual effects afforded by emerging technologies and users’ pro-
ductivity and performance in collaborative and individual work.
As integral components in a computing environment, user inter-
faces and interaction techniques are constantly drawing attention of
researchers. Many traditional user interfaces and interaction tech-
niques become awkward or next to impossible to operate on large
high-resolution displays . Researchers have been attempting to
modify or extend existing interface metaphors for large-format dis-
plays. They have also been creating novel interface techniques that
scale well on large displays. In addition, solutions for input tech-
nologies other than mouse and keyboard have been proposed to in-
teract with large-format displays. Pen-based techniques, laser point-
ers, and gestures are just a few examples.
Many challenges remain for large high-resolution displays in
various aspects, and research on large high-resolution displays is
very active and progressing rapidly, partially pushed by industry
(e.g. high-definition TV systems) . We survey the literature
on large high-resolution displays, covering research aspects of hard-
ware configurations (Section 2), rendering and streaming software
(Section 3), applications of large displays (Section 4), visual effects
and human performance (Section 5), and user interfaces and interac-
tion techniques (Section 6). We conclude by proposing ten research
challenges for utilizing and interacting with large high-resolution
displays. By specifying these challenges, we hope to inspire orig-
inal future research.
Among the first large-format display systems to receive widespread
use was the CAVETM(CAVE Automatic Virtual Environment), a
projection-based Virtual Reality (VR) system that surrounds viewers
in an immersive environment with four or more large display walls.
CAVE and Derivatives
?The word resolution historically means the density of pixels on the
screen, usually in terms of dots per inch (DPI) . However, it is becoming
common practice to refer to resolution as the number of pixels on a display,
especially when people use the term “high-resolution displays.”
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A CAVE system typically arranges four 10 ft ×10 ft screens in a
cube made up of three rear-projection screens for walls and a front-
projection screen for the floor . Five-wall  and six-wall
configurations  exist as well, but they require special screens that
can support the weight of users and/or movable screens to enable en-
try into the facility. One concern with constructing CAVE systems is
the space for the optical path between projectors and screens. Most
implementations fold each optical path with at least one mirror in
order to shrink the footprint of the total system. Typically, all users
wearstereoshutterglasses andoneuserwears aheadtrackerwithsix
degrees of freedom (DOF). This enables all users to see stereo im-
agery, although only the tracked user will have a correct perspective
projection. Tracked 3D input devices afford multiple DOF interac-
tion; data gloves and joysticks are commonly employed in immer-
sive virtual environments. Factors including an increased display
area, a wider field of view and field of regard, multiple DOF, and
stereopsis combine to generate an increased level of immersion .
The current highest resolution visualization room in the
world  (Colorplate Figure C1) has been developed by Fakespace
Systems  and is installed at the Advanced Simulation and Com-
puting (ASC) Program’s site at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The immersive viewing environment provides a 43 million pixel dis-
play across five rear-projected screens (three walls, floor, and ceil-
ing). Nine tiles compose the front wall and six tiles for each re-
maining screen. A total of 33 stereoscopic digital projectors are
seamlessly tiled to produce continuous images across the display
environment which measures 15 ft wide by 10 ft deep by 12 ft high.
Multi-monitor (or “multimon” in other literature) is an increasingly
popular configuration in businesses and homes to extend a standard
desktop PC with more screen real estate. Modern operating systems
such as Windows, Mac OS X and Linux offer plug-and-play capabil-
ity, and dual-head video output is common on even a modest graph-
ics card. WithPCIR ?and PCI ExpressR ?SLITMgraphics cards, hav-
ing multiple heads is also possible. Multi-monitor configurations are
easy to configure, without demanding expertise in computer science
or related subjects. Figure 1a shows an example of a multi-monitor
setup for desktop computing. Figure 1b and Colorplate Figure C2
show a tiled-LCD multi-monitor desktop possibility.
Figure 1: Desktop configurations: (a) dual monitor and (b) tiled-LCD
multi-monitor desktop display (Images courtesy Ball ).
Multi-monitor setups are receiving more attention in the research
community. For example, bezel issues (i.e., edges of the tiles break-
ing up the continuity of the large display) have been examined in
[70, 114]. Usability issues of multi-monitor setups for multi-tasking
havebeen explored in[25, 4,51]. Researchers also attemptedtocon-
struct projection-based multi-monitor displays. Starkweather et al.
created a curved desktop called DSHARP  using DLP projec-
tors and parabolic mirrors. Bishop and Welch  created a “desk-
top” environment that used projections on the wall to alleviate bezel
and ergonomic issues.
Tiled LCD panels are sets of LCD displays arranged in a 2D array.
The array can be arranged flat like a wall display (Figure 2a and
Tiled LCD Panels
Colorplate Figure C3), flat like a table (Figure 2b and Colorplate
Figure C4), curved, or in other configurations. The combined pixel
count across the arrays can reach into the 100 million pixel range.
For example, the Electronic Visualization Laboratory, University of
Illinois (EVL-UIC) has developed a large 100 MPixel display called
LambdaVision (Figure 2a and Colorplate Figure C3) [94, 95] and
NASA has developed the Hyperwall which contains 49 LCD panels
tiled in a 7x7 array .
Some advantages for tiled LCD panels are: (1) they are easier to
align and color correct than projectors; (2) they are less expensive
than projectors, which use expensive bulbs with relatively short life-
times; and (3) they take less space (no throw distance needed). A
disadvantage is the array has borders between each tile (it affects
displaying of text, but is not so bad for imagery).
The large tiled LCD panel displays offer a variety of uses due
to their high pixel counts. Ultra-high resolution imagery such as
geospatial data can be shown (and interacted with) in one contiguous
display. Multiple display content (e.g., graphics, desktop content,
video, and imagery) can be displayed all at once on different parts
of the display.
EVL-UIC has developed a table-top tiled LCD display called the
LambdaTable [62, 93] (Figure 2b and Colorplate Figure C4). The
advantage of the table-top format is that it is familiar to many users
who prefer a sandbox as a metaphor: every user can see the physical
shape in a sandbox and can move to a location to modify the surface.
The tangible nature of the interaction with the data is a big advan-
tage. The table-top nature makes the system practical for many users
to collaborate in an application.
Figure 2: Tiled LCD panels: (a) LambdaVision, a 100–MPixel wall
and (b) LambdaTable, a horizontal tiled display and interface (Images
provided by Luc Renambot, EVL-UIC [94, 93]).
Projector arrays can consist of CRT, light-valve, or LCD projectors.
CRT projectors provide the most flexibility in terms of geometry
control, but have limited size and brightness constraints. The light-
valve projectors are bright and very flexible for expanding the over-
all size of the array. Since several light-valve imaging schemes are
driven by scanning CRTs, they also have good geometry controls
for the output image. LCD projectors offer a cost-effective, low-
maintenance solution for arrayed projection; however, they have vir-
tually no geometry controls.
Projector arrays are becoming popular due to their lack of bezels
and the constantly-improving seamless integration of multiple tiles.
A large amount of research has been done in the area of perfect-
ing both the overall resultant display and the rendering algorithms.
For example, research has been performed on color gamut match-
ing , seams , misalignment [47, 19], luminance match-
ing , and image blending . Projectors also offer what CRT-
based, LCD-based, and plasma monitors do not: a separation be-
tween the device size and the size of the displayed image. A small
projector can be used to create a very large display or to create a
very small display. The possible range of image size is limitedby lu-
mens, lens configurations, and available space. The resolution of the
projectors, continually improving, is also a factor to consider. The
highest resolution projection technology we are aware of is Sony’s
high resolution liquid crystal device, Sony 4K SXRD , which
can produce an image resolution of 4096×2160. The technology
will be used in high-end projectors. Additionally, arbitrary physical
shapes can be used as the display surface. The result is that pro-
jector arrays enable reconfigurable and flexible display designs with
(theoretically) little bezel distortion [90, 89].
Several examples of commercial high-resolution projection-based
tiled walls are Fakespace’s PowerWallTM, VisBox’s stack-
able, reconfigurable projector array called VisBlockTM (Fig-
ures 3a, 3b and Colorplate Figures C5), Cyviz’s VizwallTM
(Figure4aand ColorplateFigureC6), andBarco’s control rooms .
Example installations are shown at Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory [87, 104] and UC-Davis . In meeting room set-
tings, largeprojected displays havebeentiledenabling increaseddis-
play bandwidth (e.g., iLand , Alias’s Visualization Studio ,
DIII-D National Fusion Facility’s control room , and AT&T’s
Global Network Operations Center [130, 20]).
Figure 3: Stackable, reconfigurable projector arrays: (a) front and (b)
side views of VisBlockTMfrom VisBox Innovative Display and Interac-
tion Technologies (Images courtesy VisBox.com ).
2.5 Stereoscopic Displays
Figure 4: Stereoscopic displays: (a) Cyviz’s stereoscopic projector
array called Cyviz VizwallTM(Image courtesy Cyviz.com ) and (b)
EVL-UIC’s autostereoscopic display called VarrierTM(Image courtesy
Stereoscopic displays show two sets of pixels for an image, mak-
ing one set visible to the user’s left eye and the other to the right
eye. Typically the user is required to wear special glasses or view-
ing aids to see the 3D effects. However, a recent development—
autostereoscopic displays—eliminates the need for special glasses.
High-resolution stereoscopic displays are typically physically larger
than their low-resolution counterparts and must account for the fol-
lowing factors: (1) larger space for head tracking (recommended to
properly view the 3D effects) and (2) larger number of pixels to be
displayed (twice as many). These factors are especially important if
the user desires to interact in real-time, operate closely to the display
surface, and move around the space in front of the display.
One of successful examples of high-resolution stereoscopic dis-
plays is Cyviz’s Vizwall  (Figure 4a and Colorplate Figure C6).
It is based on Cyviz Viz3DTMpassive stereo capable display technol-
ogy , which includes two projectors mounted on a positioning
system. Vizwall tiles several Viz3D modules in certain arrays (3×2
in Figure 4a), leading to a high-resolution passive stereoscopic dis-
play. EVL-UIC has developed an autostereoscopic display called
VarrierTM (Figure 4b and Colorplate Figure C7), which does
not require users to wear any stereo glasses to view the 3D effects.
Their approach involves a curved LCD tiled display with a paral-
lax barrier affixed to the front. The user is free to move within an
area of approximately 32 in ×48 in (81.3 cm ×121.9 cm). In addi-
tion, Liao et al.  have developed a high-resolution display using
Integral Videography technology and 9 XGA projectors arranged
in a 3×3 array, leading to a total resolution of 2872×2150 pix-
els. Their system generates geometrically accurate high-quality au-
tostereoscopic images, and reproduces motion parallax in 3D space
without any special viewing glasses and head trackers.
Another innovative high-resolution stereoscopic display is the D-
vision from Tokyo Institute of Technology . D-vision uses 24
projectors to provide stereoscopic projections on a hybrid screen. A
combination of rear and front projection provides high-resolution in
the flat central region in front of the user and lower resolution on
curved screens around the periphery.
Another class of high-resolution displays is volumetric displays.
Rather than placing the pixels on a single surface, they “stack” vox-
els (3D pixels) via different technologies to show depth. One type of
volumetric display is the swept volume display, which uses a fast ro-
tating surface to which images from one or more projectors (or laser
sources) are projected. The rotating display surface can be opaque
or semi-transparent and is rotated at sufficient speeds to render it
mostly invisible to the viewer. Swept volume displays are available
or being developed commercially from companies such as Actuality
Systems, Felix 3D-Display, Genex Technologies, and Hitachi .
Another type of volumetric display is LightSpace Technologies’
DepthCubeTM (Figure 5a, 5b and Colorplate Figure C8). The
DepthCube uses a single projector with twenty liquid-crystal projec-
tion screens stacked up in front of the projector. The screens are at
five-millimeter intervals. At any given time, nineteen of the LCDs
are transparent and only one is scattering the projected light. The
projector displays 1000 images per second so the total volume is
refreshed at 1000/20 = 50 Hz refresh rate.
Figure 5: Volumetric displays: (a) external view and (b) cutaway
mockup of DepthCubeTMdisplay from LightSpace Technologies (Im-
age courtesy LightSpace Technologies )
The XenoVision Dynamic Matrix Display , which may
also be considered a volumetric display, is a table-top display that
moves the physical display surface within a six-inch vertical range
according to an elevation file. Special rendering algorithms cor-
rectly project a full-color image file onto the irregular surface. The
3 ft ×4 ft display area takes about two minutes to reach the desired
elevations and 30 seconds to erase.
Cluster rendering can be described as the use of a set of computers
connected via a network for rendering purposes. Rendering may
take many forms: distributed video streaming, non-photorealistic
volume rendering, ray tracing and radiosity-based rendering, or in-
teractive rendering using application programming interfaces (APIs)
like OpenGL. We distinguish between display data streaming soft-
ware and distributed rendering software. Data streaming toolkits
enable streaming of any type of data for large display systems.
RENDERING AND STREAMING
Architectures and Data Distribution
Molnar et al.  classified parallel 3D rendering algorithms into
three general classes based on when the sorting of the primitives
occurs inthetransitionfromobject toscreen space. Thethreeclasses
are sort-first, sort-middle, and sort-last.
Sort-first In sort-first algorithms, the display is partitioned into dis-
crete, disjoint tiles. Each rendering node of the cluster is then as-
signed one or more of these tiles and is responsible for the complete
rendering of only those primitives that lie within one of its tiles.
Sort-middle Sort-middle algorithms begin by distributing each
graphics primitive to exactly one “processor” for geometry process-
ing. After the primitive has been transformed into screen space, it is
forwarded to another processor for rendering.
Sort-last In sort-last approaches, each primitive is sent to exactly
one node for rendering. After all primitives have been rendered, the
nodes must composite the images to form the final image. This usu-
ally requires a large amount of bandwidth because each node must
send the entire image to a compositor.
This taxonomy is generally conceived as considering a single, multi-
processor machine, but it applies equally well to a cluster of inde-
pendent machines that produce a single conceptual display. Tiled
displays lead naturally toward a sort-first approach. The screen is
already partitioned into tiles, with each tile driven by a single cluster
node. Having multiple machines with separate memories compli-
cates the task of keeping the data consistent, however.
Cluster rendering systems vary widely with respect to the way
data is distributed among the cluster nodes. Chen et al. [17, 18] first
looked at the problem of data distribution. Two general models have
emerged: client–server and master–slave.
Client-server In the client–server model, a user interacts with a sin-
gle instance of the application that runs on a client node. This client
generates the geometry and distributes it to the render servers (Fig-
ure 6a). Graphics processors offertwo rendering modes – immediate
mode and retained mode. In immediate mode, the client sends the
primitives over the network every frame. In retained mode, each
render server stores and reuses primitives it receives. The client then
needs to send only changes to the geometry. This method is usually
accomplished through a scene graph.
Master-slave In the master–slave model, the application executes
on every cluster node. Execution of the application on all nodes
must be synchronized to ensure consistency among all application
instances. Typically, a master node handles all user interaction and
synchronizes state changes between all other nodes (Figure 6b).
app, render, I/O
Figure 6: Cluster rendering distribution schemes: (a) client–server,
The master–slave approach usually requires the least amount of
bandwidth. The results of user interactions and other state changes
are sporadic and relatively simple to transmit over a network. This
approach, however, is not transparent, as everything affecting pro-
gram execution must be considered as input. Timers, random num-
ber generation, system calls, or any variables influencing program
execution need to be distributed and synchronized among the nodes.
Theclient–server approach is usually transparent to theprogrammer.
The program can be implemented as if it were running on a single
machine and the system will handle the rest.
3.2 Display Data Streaming Software
There are several software toolkits that enable streaming, splitting,
and displaying many types of data (e.g., 2D imagery, videos, and
desktop content) for large display systems.
TeraVision The TeraVision system captures and distributes vi-
sual imagery from any graphics platform over a high-speed net-
work .TeraVision has been demonstrated to successfully
stream real-time microscopy images at 2000 ×2000 pixel resolu-
tion from the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research
(NCMIR) to Hawaii, to provide researchers at the University of
Hawaii access to NCMIR’s microscope.
SAGE EVL-UIC has developed the Scalable Adaptive Graphics En-
vironment (SAGE), a graphics streaming architecture that supports
seamless display of networked applications across high-resolution
displays. The data from the applications may include 3D render-
ings, video streams, 2D geospatial imagery, etc. SAGE supports
hundreds of megapixels of contiguous display resolution and pro-
vides dynamic pixel routing capability, which allows users to freely
move and resize an application’s imagery over tiled displays in real
time [56, 96]. SAGE relies on TeraVision to distribute visual im-
agery across different platforms .
EVL-UIC VNC Viewer EVL-UIC developed a Virtual Network
Computer (VNC) protocol client that enables users to bring desk-
top content to the SAGE environment. EVL-UIC’s VNC Viewer is a
standard VNC client program modified to serve as a proxy between
a VNC server (of any size and pixel depth) and SAGE. Once the
pixels are retrieved from the VNC server, the same pixels are given
to the SAGE API for immediate display. SAGE supports any num-
ber of simultaneous VNC applications, making use of the large real
estate offered by high-resolution tiled displays.
IBM’s ScalableGraphics EnginePerrineand Jones  developed
a parallel rendering environment for the IBM Scalable Graphics En-
gine (SGE). Their toolkit supports tunneling, which allows graphics
applications to communicate directly with the SGE, SMP render-
ing, and includes an OpenGL implementation that utilizes the SGE.
Based on this toolkit, they implemented a parallel MPEG video
video player that supports a large number of video and audio codecs.
VLC support media streaming and includes a “wall” video filter that
splits the output in several tiles.
OptiStore and LambdaRAM OptiStore is a high-performance,
low-latency dataretrieval system that filtersraw2D and3D volumet-
ric data and produces a sequence of visual objects. OptiStore uses
LambdaRAM to achieve low-latency data access by aggressively us-
ing high bandwidth networks and caching.
JuxtaView JuxtaView is an application for visualizing extremely
high-resolution montage images onscalabletileddisplays, whichare
able to deal with the largest montages produced by biologists .
JuxtaView uses OptiStore to enable rapid panning and zooming
through enormous images accessed over wide-area high-speed net-
Scalable Visualization Consumer The Scalable Visualization
Consumer (SVC) receives MPEG2 data through a FirewireR ?
(IEEE1394) interface, files on disk, or network interface and de-
compresses it for streaming to a tiled display. The MPEG2 data is
decompressed, split as sub-images, and streamed to the appropriate
NCSA Pixel Blaster The National Center for Supercomputing Ap-
plications (NCSA) developed Pixel Blaster , a distributed high-
definition movie player, which reads raw-format HD images and dis-
tributes them to display nodes. The application was ported by EVL-
UIC to operate with SAGE.
Raffin and Soares  present a review of common software toolk-
its supporting PC clusters for Virtual Reality systems, including
CAVELib, VR Juggler, Syzygy, OpenSG, Chromium, and others.
Although they discuss distributed rendering software in the context
of VR and parallelism, these tools are naturally applicable to large
high-resolution display systems. For example, Chromium  has
been widely used to support interactive parallel visualization appli-
cations displaying to tiled displays. OpenSG  implements ren-
dering on tiled displays by dividing the screen into M×N uniformly
spaced tiles with a render server assigned to each of them. We sum-
marize several additional toolkits that specifically handle rendering
for large high-resolution display systems.
Distributed Multihead X (DMX) Typical X-Windows servers pro-
vide support for multiple displays connected to the same machine
via the Xinerama extension. TheDMX project  provides a proxy
X server that is a front end to X servers running on each rendering
node in a cluster. The X client application will connect to the front-
end server; rendering requests will be broken down as needed and
sent to the appropriate back-end servers via X11 library calls. DMX
is transparent to the application and supports standard mouse and
keyboard input through the XInput extension.
Distributed Rendering Software
Aura Aura  is a multi-platform API designed for scientific vi-
sualization on tiled displays. In “broadcast” mode it implements a
client–server model. It provides the userwithascene graph interface
to take advantage of frame-to-frame coherence. Aura also provides
a master–slave configuration called “multiple copies”.
Virtual Immersive Reality Program Interface (VIRPI) Ger-
mans et al.  developed VIRPI on top of Aura  to provide a
high-level user interface toolkit. VIRPI provides standard widgets,
such as menus and radio buttons, as well as a framework for mea-
suring in virtual spaces.
Blue-c Distributed Scene Graph The blue-cTMdistributed scene
graph by N¨ af et al.  is based on OpenGL Performer . To
support collaboration and cluster rendering, it has been enhanced
with node serialization and state update interfaces. Additional cus-
tom nodes and attribute objects are integrated to support multimedia
elements [76, 77].
VirtualGraphicsPlatform(VGP)ModViz, Inc. developed theVir-
tual Graphics Platform , a cluster rendering toolkit for Linux
environments. Similar to Chromium, it is transparent to the appli-
cation and intercepts OpenGL function calls, which are distributed
to rendering servers running on each cluster node. VGP supports
large-scale multi-screen projection displays and image compositing.
Renderizer ModViz, Inc.’s Renderizer  enables multi-display
cluster rendering for OpenGL Performer-based applications. It re-
places a small number of OpenGL Performer function calls and
eliminates the need to parallelize existing applications explicitly.
EVL-UIC OpenGL Wrapper The EVL-UIC OpenGL Wrapper al-
lows easy porting of native OpenGL applications to SAGE. The
wrapper operates similarly to WireGL by intercepting the “glSwap-
Buffer” command, and then it streams the OpenGL data to SAGE.
Vol-a-Tile Vol-a-Tile  is a volume visualization tool for large-
scale, time-series scientific datasets rendered on high-resolution
scalable displays. These large-scale datasets can be dynamically
processed and retrieved from remote data stores over optical net-
works using OptiStore. Vol-a-Tile utilizes the fast OpenGL 3D tex-
turing and fragment shaders.
Blaster  is an OpenGL-based interface to the terraserver
(www.terraservice.net), a 3.3-terabyte online database of high
resolution USGS aerial imagery for all of the United States. It
can be used together with Chromium to display on high-resolution
The NCSA TerraServer
Large high-resolution displays have been widely installed in com-
mand and control centers for a variety of applications including
military, aerospace, and telecommunications. The Air Force Re-
search Laboratory developed the Interactive DataWall, which is an
ultra-high-resolution large screen display that has an interface us-
ing wireless interaction devices. Jedrysik et al.  use the Interac-
tive DataWall for situational awareness and collaborative decision-
making tasks involving battlefield data.
A large four-wall immersive room has been deployed at the Naval
Research Laboratory (NRL). The 3D Virtual & Mixed Environment
Laboratory developed a submarine command application for detect-
ing target submarines that operates in the immersive room . A
sonar operator is immersed in an oceanographic view, where a set
of tracking sonar buoys are dropped, and can visualize the output of
several different tracking algorithms that have been developed (Fig-
ure 7a and Colorplate Figure C9).
Christie constructed a large, high-resolution, 198,000 ft2commu-
nication command and control center for AT&T in 1999 [130, 20].
The control center, AT&T’s Global Network Operations Center, has
given AT&T the unparalleled capability to manage the flow of com-
munications traffic across its network anywhere in the world from
one location. The center contains over 75 high-resolution projected
displays, each used to visualize computer-generated data and graph-
icsassociated withover250 millionvoicecallsonatypical weekday.
APPLICATIONS OF LARGE HIGH-RESOLUTION DISPLAYS
Command and Control
Figure 7: Applications: (a) NRL’s immersive room demonstrating a
submarine command & control application, and (b) Deere & Com-
pany’s VR testing facility for virtual prototyping vehicle designs and
testing their effectiveness (Photo courtesy Deere & Company, Moline,
It has been a fundamental requirement of the automotive design in-
dustry to display and interact with vehicle models at 1:1 scale .
Therefore, automotive design studios haveexplored theuseof avari-
ety of large-format digital displays in their design workflow, includ-
ing tape drawing, electronic drafting tables, ImmersaDeskTMVR
systems, CAVEs, and PowerWalls. Deere & Company is develop-
ing applications that simulate vehicle operations using large VR dis-
play facilities like the one shown in Figure 7b and Colorplate Fig-
ure C10. They utilize such applications to evaluate human factors
and ergonomics, analyze complex engineering data, and build capa-
bilities in vehicle manufacturing process development .
Large high-resolution displays offer the sense of scale needed for
geospatial imaging and large film-quality video applications. The
ability to obtain realistic terrain representations, zoom across scales,
and create fly-through animations certainly benefits geospatial visu-
alization. Large displays allow users to see critical details in com-
plex dynamic phenomena, such as subtle eddies that are critical to
understanding global ocean circulation models .
High-resolution display systems are used by several major oil and
gas companies for geospatial exploration and engineering, 3D map-
ping, and geophysical analysis . Evans et al.  used high-
resolution displays to develop interactive prototypical spatial mod-
els of forest stands from LIDAR and multi-spectral data. They use
the large displays to visualize a spatially true models of the stands.
MacEachren  studied how the the large displays impact geospa-
tial analysis. They revealed that iconic data representations, interac-
tion methods, and remote collaboration techniques need to be con-
sidered when using the displays for geospatial analysis.
Geospatial Imagery and Video
Large high-resolution displays have been one of the favorite choices
for scientific visualization applications because they offer (1) view-
ing of data at true-to-life orhuman-scale physical sizes and (2) view-
ing of large amounts of data simultaneously with the increased num-
ber of pixels available. One organization using large high-resolution
display forscientificvisualizationis OakRidgeNational Laboratory.
They are performing a variety of scientific visualization research in-
cluding scientificsimulations of galacticsupernovae, protein expres-
sion, nanostructure models, and fusion energy devices . They
have a 30 ft ×8 ft display wall with a resolution of more than
11,000×3,000 pixels (35 million pixels) installed at their Science
Visualization Facility. Another organization is EVL-UIC, which is
developing applications for visualizing geoscience data like seismic
activity, flow of water through the earth, and physical processes of
the inner earth. The applications have been designed for their high-
resolution tile wall called GeoWall2 (a 5×3 array of LCD panels)
and other displays .
An integral part of collaborative work is a public display surface that
serves as a medium for presenting, capturing, and exchanging ideas.
Several examples of display surfaces and collaborative research as-
sociated with them are itemized.
Liveboard Xerox PARC’s Elrod et al.  pioneered a large inter-
active display system called Liveboard, which provides computer-
supported group meetings, presentations, and remote collaboration.
The Liveboard is a stylus-based, interactive large-format display,
which can be used as a meeting-support tool providing whiteboard-
like functionality, allowing users to write down ideas and retrieve
UNC’s Office of the Future UNC  proposed the technology
of “Office of the Future”, combining wall-sized high-resolution dis-
plays, cameras, and several types of interaction techniques. The goal
of thesystem istoprovide very compelling tele-collaboration among
Dynamo Izadi et al.  designed and implemented Dynamo, a
communal multi-user interactive surface with which users can eas-
ily access and interact. This device allows people meeting in public
Collaboration and Tele-immersion
spaces to share and manipulate digital information, such as docu-
ments, video, and images, in a manner that emulates physical docu-
Alias Visualization Studio The Alias Visualization Studio [35, 2]
houses a number of state-of-the-art corporate meeting facilities, in-
cluding large display walls (Colorplate Figure C11). The designers
indicated the importance of good interior design, drawing on theatri-
cal and cinematic principles, and social concerns, such as privacy,
aesthetics of large displays, and attention management (including
distractions on secondary displays).
DIII-D National Fusion Facility Control Room The DIII-D Na-
tional Fusion Facility control room  has installed a large, shared
display wall composed of three 50-inch Toshiba P500DK data wall
cubes arranged horizontally creating a nearly seamless 3840×1240
pixel tiled display. The US National Fusion Collaboratory Project
is utilizing the large shared display wall for control room collabo-
rations in the following ways: (1) presenting up-to-date information
about experiment status and group activity; (2) sharing data between
personal desktop screens and the large display wall; and 3) video-
conferencing of core team members from remote sites.
Tele-immersion is a new paradigm of collaboration.
promise of creating collaborative visualization and VR applica-
tions over national and global high-speed networks. A large high-
resolution display is an ideal facility for tele-immersion applica-
tions, since collaborative exploration of massive scientific data sets
requires a large screen real estate. In the late 1990s, the National
Tele-immersion Initiative (including UNC-Chapel Hill, Brown, and
Univ. of Pennsylvania) was formed to experiment with realistic hu-
man representation at a distance (over Internet2) in order to facil-
itate tele-collaboration . The blue-c project expanded those
results and unified them with lessons learned from CAVE-related
research [41, 64, 77].
The Air Force Office of Scientific Research is supporting work
at Iowa State University to develop new technology for monitoring
and control of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Iowa State is de-
veloping a system that provides real-time data in a tele-immersive
large-scale display environment and allows operators better control
of the UAVs .
It holds a
Large high-resolution displays are a great tool for education and
training in astronomy, bioinformatics, medical imaging, urban plan-
ning, and geographic information. Researchers at EVL-UIC have
built an advanced tiled-visualization system called GeoWall2 to de-
velop informal science education applications for museums, gal-
leries, and other public events . UC-Santa Cruz  has de-
veloped a collaborative learning environment for the classroom by
using a large shared tile-wall display. The display space is shared by
the instructor and students. The large display space provides the pri-
mary means of presentation of lecture material, allowing the lecturer
to keep multiple screens of material in view for the students. The
students can download any portion of the display, enabling them to
go back at any time to previous screens of the presentation. The dis-
play also permits students to show their work, ideas, and even pose
Education and Training
Iowa State University’s Virtual Reality Applications Centers
(VRAC) has been developing immersive applications with their
large-display environments over the last several years . They
have projects for virtual prototyping thermal systems in a power
plant and developing virtual engineering tools for livestock produc-
tion. The Naval Research Laboratory  and others  have
developed fire training tools using an immersive room that enable
users to practice fire safety procedures inside of buildings, ships,
and other environments.
4.8 Public Information Displays
Advances in flat panel display technology and projector research
have led to consumer grade devices and the ability to use them in
many novel ways, such as the use of high-resolution imagery in per-
vasive public displays. Where there once might have been a printed
image or a low grade digital image, we are now starting to see large
tiled public displays . No longer are the displays limited to flat
billboards either—most any surface or collection of surfaces has the
potential to receive digital enhancement .
Many of the concepts of pervasive displays have roots in ambient
spaces research . In traditional computer applications, includ-
ing VR, user actions are explicit. That is, users consciously direct
the computer to perform some desired task. In ambient and per-
vasive applications, actions could be implicit. The computer could
recognize an action and respond appropriately, even when there is
no intended computer interaction or an awareness that user actions
could trigger a response from the computer. Inherent in this effort to
separate the display from the computing hardware are many of the
ideals expressed in ubiquitous computing .
5VISUAL EFFECTS AND HUMAN PERFORMANCE
When large interactive displays were constructed, researchers real-
ized that the changing visual effects afforded by the increased dis-
play landscape would have a profound impact on how users work
with computing workspaces. As Swaminathan and Sato  ob-
served, “when a display exceeds a certain size, it becomes qualita-
tively different.” Priorresearch not only qualitatively observes in de-
tail user behavior on such displays, but also quantitatively explores
visual effects of large high-resolution displays on users’ task perfor-
mance. Practicalusabilityissues of both hardware and software have
been uncovered, and guidelines for design and presentation of infor-
mation systems on large high-resolution displays have been formed.
5.1 Qualitative Evaluations
Large displays were initially applied in building collaborative
workspaces, and benefits of large-format displays for groups work-
ing together have been demonstrated.
project’s focus on underlying hardware and a pen-based user in-
terface, an informal survey found it was most frequently used for
group meeting facilitation. Guimbretiere et al.  also explored
pen-based interaction with high-resolution wall-size displays, and
have tested their design with professional product design groups en-
gaged in brainstorming tasks.
Ball et al.  reported an observational analysis of the use of
a large tiled display consisting of 9 LCD monitors in 3×3 array
over the course of six months. Although it is not a controlled ex-
perimental evaluation in its nature, it provides insightful feedback
concerning common usage of how users do and do not use a large
high-resolution display to perform ordinary tasks, such as reading
papers, surfing web pages, viewing images, programming, and en-
tertaining. For example, they found a bezel adaptation strategy em-
ployed by most users when working with tiled LCD surfaces, show-
ing that bezels tend to help users quickly separate multiple appli-
cations and tasks, which significantly decreases context switching.
Based on their observations, they summarized the advantages and
disadvantages of using tiled high-resolution displays and formed de-
sign recommendations and guidelines for application designers.
Despite the Liveboard
With LCD panels becoming less expensive, it is an emerging trend
to have personal multi-monitor configurations in offices. Also, it is
not uncommon to install individual large displays with affordable
projectors. It therefore opens up numerous research opportunities
with respect to individual gains and user behavior on large displays.
Tan et al. [117, 116] conducted two studies to quantify benefits
of physically large displays for individual users. They took an ap-
proach of designing controlled experiments, identifying independent
and dependent variables explicitly while holding constant other fac-
tors. This approach, compared to previous practical experiments, al-
lows precise statistical analysis of theresults to identifythe causes of
any observed difference in performance or usability data . They
maintained a constant viewing angle for each of two displays in their
experimental design. In the first study, participants performed spa-
tial orientation tasks involving static 2D scenes. A significant per-
formance gain was observed on the large display, even though the
two displays cast identical-size retinal images. In the second study,
they designed triangle completion tasks to examine how display size
affected path integration performance in interactive 3D virtual envi-
ronments. Not surprisingly, users were more effective on the physi-
cally large display. They suggested that large displays may afford a
greater sense of presence, leading users to adopt an egocentric rather
than an exocentric strategy in spatial tasks. Further studies 
found the benefits of being able to interact with the environment
were independent of the physical size of the display.
Researchers havealso been interestedinexamining how largedis-
plays reduce gender bias in navigating virtual environments. Exist-
ing reports have suggested that males significantly outperformed fe-
males in VE navigation. However, Czerwinski et al.  undertook
controlled experiments, uncovering that women wereable to achieve
similar VE navigation performance to men if they were exposed to
a large display coupled with a wide field of view. A follow-up study
by Tan et al.  attempted to identify what factors were driving
3D navigation gains for females. They indicated that the gender-
specific navigation benefits come from the presence of optical flow
cues, which were better afforded by a wider field of view on large
While recommendations and guidelines for design and presenta-
tion of interactive 3D virtual environments on large displays have
been made, we lack insights in the effectiveness of large high-
resolution displays for basic low-level data visualization and naviga-
tion tasks. Ball et al.  described an exploratory study comparing
basic visualization task performance on a large tiled display with a
resolution of 3840×3072 and two smaller displays (1560×2048
and 1280×1024). They concluded that with finely detailed data,
large high-resolution displays result in more physical navigation,
which is preferable to virtual zoom-and-pan navigation on smaller
In addition, researchers have started to explore the possible us-
age of large-format displays in creating semi-immersive environ-
ments. Patrick et al.  conducted an empirical study to examine
how users acquired spatial knowledge in a VE presented on a head-
mounted display (HMD), a large projection display, and a desktop
monitor. An intriguing finding was there was no observed signifi-
cant difference in reproduction of VE-survey knowledge when users
viewed through an HMD versus a large screen, implying that large
displays may be an effective low-cost alternative for HMDs for VE
Quantitative Tests of Spatial Tasks
Polys et al.  considered how varied display size affects informa-
tion layout interface design in an information-rich virtual environ-
ment (IRVE). Two information layout techniques to support search
and comparison tasks were designed and evaluated. The Object
Quantitative Tests for Information Display
Space technique was to associate textual labels relative to their ref-
erent virtual objects, and the Viewport Space technique was to dis-
play labels on an image plane workspace. They altered two levels
of software field of view (SFOV) on a single monitor and a 3×3
tiled LCD display, respectively. Search and comparison tasks were
designed, and both accuracy and time were measured. They iden-
tified a significant advantage provided by the Viewport Space tech-
nique combined with a wide SFOV. Since an IRVE is a spatial, per-
ceptual VE enriched by abstract information, it is useful in many
application domains where pure perceptual information is not suffi-
cient, such as scientific visualization, military simulation, architec-
ture walkthrough, education, and entertainment. Intuitively, IRVE
applications may benefit greatly from large high-resolution displays.
Polys et al.’s work represents a trend toward designing and evaluat-
ing original techniques for new displays to increase users productiv-
ity in IRVE applications.
The Infocockpit  showed that the memory retention of a
user was improved 56% by using multiple monitors to spread the
information around the user’s space, creating a sense of presence.
Lin et al.  found a correlation between memory retention of a
virtual environment, the sense of presence gained from within that
environment, and the size of the field of view (FOV). They showed
that increased FOV improved performance on memory-based tasks
and correlated with a better sense of presense. They did not attempt
to establish evidence for the cause of this correlation.
While user interfaces for standard desktop displays have been devel-
oped over a few decades now, there has been relatively little work
on interfaces for large format displays. We identify large display us-
ability issues and interaction challenges, and then examine the work
in the field by dividing the efforts into two categories: work aimed
at 2D displays and work aimed at 3D displays. While techniques for
the former tend to emerge as extensions of desktop interfaces, tech-
niques for the latter share more with virtual reality (VR) interfaces.
USER INTERFACES AND INTERACTION TECHNIQUES
To design usable and useful interface and interaction for large high-
resolution displays, we must understand which factors have left con-
ventional interface techniques awkward to use on large displays. We
identify five categories of large display usability issues.
Usability Issues and Interaction Challenges
1. Reaching distant objects. As screen real estate grows, it is in-
creasingly difficult for users to access objects scattered around on a
wall-sized display , especially when they tend to stay relatively
close to a large display. For example, if a user seated in front of
a large screen tries to drag a file icon near the lower right corner
to the recycle bin icon on the left, it will be a terrible experience
to use a traditional drag-and-drop interaction paradigm. It is also a
common problem with more modest multi-monitor configurations,
since accessing an icon or window at a distance requires more cur-
sor moving, which takes time and raises cursor-tracking issues .
Reaching distant information becomes even harder with hetereoge-
neous monitor configrations (e.g. a SmartBoard combined with a
regular LCD panel plus a PDA).
2. Tracking the cursor. With increased physical screen size, users
employ higher mouse acceleration to traverse large displays . The
faster the mouse cursor moves, however, the more difficulty users
have keeping track of it. In addition, during meetings or presenta-
tions with large–format display facilities, a speaker is likely to point
a cursor at a target to direct audience’s attention. Locating a sta-
tionary cursor, however, becomes increasingly problematic on large
3. Crossing bezels. Using multiple monitors is still a popular
configuration to gain extra working space. Multi-monitors display
bezels arebeneficialinallowingusers toorganizemultipletasks onto
different monitors . Problems occur, however, when users cross
bezels. A windows or an image may be sufficiently large to occupy
several monitors, creating visual discontinuity at bezels. When a
cursor traverses across a bezel, there is normally a discrepancy be-
tween its actual traveling course and what users may expect, since
there is no virtual space underneath the bezels.
resolution displays imposes many space and layout management is-
sues, especially when windowing systems are used. On desktop dis-
plays, various window or task management systems exist, such as
Apple Expos´ e . Effectively handling space and layout on large-
format displays, however, is by no means trivial.
Managing space and layout.
Interaction with large high-
5. Transitioning between interactions. Based on tasks a user is
likely to perform, interaction with large displays can be categorized
into two broad paradigms. For tasks involving dealing with detailed
information, working up close toa large display is reasonable. There
are other tasks, however, that are best performed from a distance,
such as sorting photos and pages or presenting large drawings to
a group . Also, large displays often feature touch screen ca-
pacity. Consequently, techniques allowing a smooth transition from
up-close interaction to interaction at a distance and vice versa are
Traditional desktop metaphors such as Windows, Icons, Menus, and
Pointing (WIMP) do not always scale well to large format displays.
Even for large displays that are still situated on physical desktops,
the amount of screen real estate can make pointing to or even find-
ing windows, icons, and menus difficult. Baudisch et al.  found
that a high density of cursor positions seen on the screen could as-
sist users in visualizing the mouse path, which resulted in a small
improvement of performance in moving to distant targets and higher
user satisfaction. Robertson et al.  propose a set of extensions
to the traditional mouse actions and window capabilities that aim to
enable the user to find, move, and manage desktop objects more eas-
ily. They also address issues such as the confusion caused by the
bezel between physical displays, which limits usability for systems
that simply place multiple displays in proximity.
A number of techniques allow users to share portions of win-
dows [11, 98], which can be quite useful for moving tools near areas
in large-format displays where they can be helpful, or for briefly
viewing windows at remote locations of the desktop without having
to move to a new location and lose context. Another set of tech-
niques helps draw the user’s attention to specific areas of the display
by changing the relative illumination of items of interest . In a
search-and-identify task, Spotlight  was found to significantly
increase the user’s speed in identifying the desired information. The
application may also give users the ability to manually move win-
dows large distances across the display .
Drag-and-drop is a popular technique for passing information be-
tween applications (including the operating system and an applica-
tion) or collecting items in desktop interfaces. Since this technique
requires the pointing action in traditional WIMP interfaces, it suffers
on large-format displays. Several attempts have been made to allevi-
ate the difficulties, notably moving potential targets near the selected
object [7, 21]. Such techniques improve user reach and time over
drag-and-drop and have competitive or lower error and drop rates.
It is interesting to note that users sometimes performed faster with
traditional drag-and-drop over short distances, reflecting the famil-
iarity with that technique and the time for the user to orient to the
assembled candidate targets.
Extending Existing GUIs and 2D Metaphors
A technique called Vacuum  pulls objects towards the user’s
invocation point so that they may enter the user’s physical reach.
Upon release, the desktop returns to its previous (pre-vacuumed)
state. This technique increased speed in tasks that consisted of se-
lecting multiple targets, but not for the task of selecting a single
target, with an increase in error rate of under three times, mostly due
to missing small representations of objects that should have been
Another novel GUI widget and interaction technique, known as a
“Frisbee” , addresses the problem of arm’s length direct manipu-
lation of inaccessible regions of large-format displays in an applica-
tion independent way. A frisbee consists of a local “telescope” and
a remote “target”, acting as a portal to another part of a display. In-
teractions performed within the telescope are applied on the remote
data, which are surrounded by the target and drawn in the telescope.
This technique satisfies major design principles such as minimizing
physical travel and visual disruption, maintaining visual consistency,
and supporting concurrent multi-user interactions, and proves to be
advantageous over conventional “click-walk-click” interaction style
for wall-sized displays.
Direct drawing on 2D displays is not yet a standard interface tool,
but it can be a powerful metaphor for a wall-sized display. The Inter-
active Mural used a pen-based drawing tool  with which the user
could draw, write text, or manipulate parameters such as the scale
and position of the display space.
General VR tracking systems, whether based on magnetic, mechan-
ical, optical, ultrasonic, or other technologies, have often been used
as 3D input devices for large display spaces. Through their ability
to enable pointing via ray-casting and similar techniques, they can
be used to select objects at arbitrary distances from the user in a 3D
space. With their six DOF input, they can be mapped to naviga-
tion operations in 3D; many such interfaces have been inspired by
The Interaction Table  provides six DOF input witha series of
devices that together can provide an interface similar to a 3D wheel
for navigation or manipulation. This can provide a natural interface
and has the benefit of providing passive feedback to the user.
Grossman et al.  developed a 3D modeling interface for large-
scale displays. The interface integrates a variety of methods that
work well for large-scale interaction. Some of these include 2D con-
structionplanes spatiallyorganized ina3D volume, tapedrawing for
curve and line creation, and continuous two-handed interaction.
The VisionWand  represents a compromise between the dif-
ficult task of tracking hands and the ease of users forming gestures.
Using a wand with colored endpoints creates a device that is easy to
track, but requires little hardware in the user’s hands. The user can
then gesture with such methods as tapping, tilting, rotating, or mov-
ing the wand to control parameters. Gestures can control standard
user interface items such as menus and widgets to enable the user to
manipulate more parameters.
LaViola et al.  developed a set of novel input devices for
CAVE-based virtual environments.
such as pointing with a tracked, finger-worn sleeve or foot gestures,
such a tapping toes or heels on a map with a foot-worn slipper for
navigation. They enable object selection with flexing and pinching
while wearing a glove with buttons added to engage actions. Similar
user actions can be measured by computer vision systems [52, 60],
but the robustness of such systems still presents difficulties such as
incorrectly recognized gestures.
Malik et al.  use multi-hand gestures to enable the user to
control an object and the workspace simultaneously, thus allowing
the user to bridge the distance between objects, or to offer the user a
wider range of gestures by allowing the two hands to work together.
3D User Interfaces for Large Displays
They employ hand gestures,
They activate widgets under the hands to similarly add to the power
of gesture-based interactions.
Vogel et al.  use hand gestures to indicate typical user in-
terface actions such as point-and-click when working at a distance
from the display surface. In order to achieve a stable pointing opera-
tion, they filter the detected finger position. They found that closing
the thumb to the index finger does not appear to have any speed
or accuracy benefit over tapping in mid-air, despite the kinestethic
feedback offered by the former. They found that a ray-based point-
ing operation was faster but inaccurate compared to a technique that
combined a clutching gesture to engage control and hand motion to
move. The latter technique enabled similar performance to a hybrid
approach that used approximate pointing.
The Interactive Workspaces Project  explored interface possi-
bilities for people working together using large displays. They inte-
gratedavarietyof interactiondevices andtechniques including wire-
less multimodal devices. Other similar work combining interaction
devices with display walls can be found in [97, 92, 75, 53, 38, 82].
While many believe that large-format displays automatically pro-
vide benefits, the evidence is not quite so clear. Tyndiuk et al. 
found that navigation to objects that are already in view does not
benefit from a large display over a standard desktop display, whereas
navigation to unseen objects does (presumably due to benefit in the
search portion of the navigation). They also found that performance
on amanipulation taskimproved withthe largedisplay overthe stan-
dard desktop. They further found a correlation between visual at-
tention and performance with large displays compared to small dis-
User Interface Evaluation
After consideration of the issues associated with large high-
resolution displays, we have come up with a list of what we believe
are the top ten research challenges faced by this community. We
hope the challenges inspire future research projects involving large
1. Truly seamless tiled displays. Tiling projected images to form
a ”seamless” large high-resolution display has been a popular ap-
proach, and we have witnessed a lot of work done on image blend-
ing and geometric registration. However, unresolved technological
problems exist, such as variations of color and luminosity, which
may easily break the illusion of a single seamless display. Calibra-
tion is also reported to be a headache in practice.
2. Stereoscopic large high-resolution displays. Building large-
scale, high-resolution headtracked stereoscopic displays is a key
challenge to producing a high-resolution immersive virtual environ-
ment experience. The Varrier autostereoscopic display developed at
EVL-UIC  and a few projector-based high-resolution solutions
(e.g., Cyviz’s Vizwall ) are achievements heading in the right
direction toward solving this challenge.
TOP TEN RESEARCH CHALLENGES
3. Easily reconfigurable large high-resolution displays. Creating
displays that can easily be reconfigured and support several form
factors (e.g., flat, curved, and other representations) is desirable. To-
day’s reconfigurable displays often require tedious hours of realign-
ment after any shape reconfiguration. Future reconfigurable displays
should be easy to pack, move, align, and color calibrate.
4. High-performance cluster rendering. There is a growing num-
ber of software APIs and toolkits for cluster rendering with sup-
port for high-resolution displays. A number of toolkits support only
master–slave data distribution. These schemes are easy to imple-
ment and allow legacy applications that can’t be parallelized to run
in a cluster environment. However, they do not fully utilize cluster
resources since every node has to run a copy of the application and
there is no performance increase compared withrunning the applica-
tion on a single machine. Some toolkits intercept OpenGL function
calls and distribute rendering data to cluster nodes. While this is
transparent to the application, these toolkits require high-bandwidth
and low-latency connections between cluster nodes. There is no ul-
timate solution for cluster rendering today, and the choice for a par-
ticular toolkit largely depends on the application.
5. Scalability. The majority of tiled-display installations today is
limited to fewer than twenty tiles. Existing cluster rendering and
display data streaming software provides adequate support for these
types of systems. However, we expect new challenges with the ad-
vance of massively-tiled displays such as EVL-UIC’s 55-tile Lam-
6. Design and evaluate large high-resolution display groupware.
Although large-format displays are appealing technologies to sup-
port collaborative interaction, it remains challenging to design and
evaluate groupware applications that fully exploit their capacity and
potential . Grudin outlined research challenges for creating
desktop groupware applications in , most of which still hold up
in designing groupware applications for large high-resolution dis-
plays. However, unique characteristics and requirements of large-
scale display groupware systems present new challenges. For exam-
ple, users perceive large high-resolution displays in radically differ-
ent ways due to their form factors, which may affect the groupware
interface design. Also, large display groupware applications have
to accomodate semi-public or public contexts, which may affect the
visibility and privacy of interactions .
7. Effective interaction techniques. Traditional mouse and key-
board and associated standard desktop interaction techniques are not
sufficient for interaction with large-format displays. A number of
interaction techniques have been investigated for large displays in-
cluding natural gestures, voice recognition, multi-handed interaction
techniques, and methods to improve the reach of the user. Also, sev-
eral user interface metaphors for facilitating specific tasks such as
windows management and distal target access have been explored.
These techniques show promise, but need to be evaluated for spe-
cific tasks in order to gain a better understanding of how effective
they are for interacting with large displays.
8. Perceptuallyvalidways of presentinginformation onthelarge
displays. The field of view has a demonstrable effect on the percep-
tion of the user; this is the most obvious but not the only feature of
perceptual significance for large displays. Factors such as apparent
brightness, contrast, and resolution heavily affect the user’s under-
standing of information on a display. Non-visual effects, such as
ergonomic comfort, may also play a role.
9. Empirical evidence for the benefits of large high-resolution
displays. A taxonomy that matches low-level tasks, perceptual fac-
tors, and high-level applications with different form-factor display
types (e.g., resolution, physical size, configuration) would enable
laboratories to gain the most benefit for their applications without
having to risk investing significant resources on less appropriate sys-
tems. We should analyze the benefits and limitations of large high
resolution for a range of tasks. We have presented some work in this
area, but much more is needed.
10. Integrating large high-resolution displays into a seamless
computing environment. It is an increasing trend to bring portable
computing devices intoworkspaces. A seamless computing environ-
ment is an infrastructure supporting a smooth integration of portable
devices and pre-installed computing facilities, making it possible to
fluidly exchange, share, and store information within a collaborative
group. While large high-resolution displays are becoming preva-
lent to support collaborative tasks, a challenging question arises: is
there an effective way to seamlessly integrate emerging display tech-
nologies with existing heterogeneous devices? Associated are many
fundamental research issues to address including low level network-
ing and hardware interfaces, supporting software toolkits, user inter-
faces, and social interaction.
Wehave presented acomprehensive survey of priorresearch onlarge
high-resolution displays, identified major unresolved problems, and
from these made a list of what we feel are the top ten challenges in
the field. Our expectation is that the survey and top ten challenges
will bring attention to what has been done and what needs to be done
for research involving large high-resolution displays. We hope to
inspire the display community into having more discussion and de-
bates about research in this field, and more importantly, spark efforts
to maintain an updated list of achievements and current research
challenges in the field. Scientific research for large high-resolution
displays has been advancing tremendously in the past decade, and
we believe it is far from running out of steam. We feel it also will
evolve into an interdisciplinary research area with a stimulating and
challenging agenda in the future.
We wish to thank Luc Renambot and Jason Leigh (EVL-UIC), Mike
Eisenhard (CYVIZ), Paul Rajlich (VisBox, Inc.), Jeff Brum and
Don Garwood (Fakespace Systems), Doug Bowman (VirginiaTech),
Azam Khan (Alias), Presley Salaz (LANL), Simon Julier and Den-
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(C1) (C2) (C3) Download full-text
Figure C1: Los Alamos National Laboratory’s ultra high-resolution immersive room—La Cueva Grande —developed by Fakespace Systems  (Image
courtesy of Los Alamos National Laboratory, reference LA-UR-05-7498. Photographed by Presley Salaz, LANL).
Figure C2: Tiled-LCD multi-monitor desktop display (Image courtesy of Ball ).
Figure C3: LambdaVision, a 100–MPixel wall (Image provided by Luc Renambot, Electronic Visualization Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago [94, 93]).
Figure C4: LambdaTable, a horizontal tiled display and interface (Image provided by Luc Renambot, EVL-UIC [94, 93]).
Figure C5: Stackable, reconfigurable projector array, VisBlockTMfrom VisBox Innovative Display and Interaction Technologies (Image courtesy VisBox.com ).
Figure C6: Cyviz’s stereoscopic projector array called Cyviz VizwallTM(Image courtesy Cyviz.com ).
Figure C7: EVL-UIC’s autostereoscopic display called VarrierTM(Image courtesy EVL-UIC ).
Figure C8: Cutaway mockup of DepthCubeTMdisplay from LightSpace Technologies (Image courtesy LightSpace Technologies ).
Figure C9: NRL’s immersive room demonstrating a submarine command & control application.
Figure C10: Deere & Company’s VR testing facility for virtual prototyping vehicle designs and testing their effectiveness (Photo courtesy Deere & Company,
Moline, Illinois ).
Figure C11: State-of-the-art meeting facility at Alias Visualization Studio (Image courtesy of Alias ).