Dalhousie DRIVE   Based on experience gained within the Simon Fraser CoLab, and in conjunction with a wide variety of academic and corporate partners, this project is to develop a laboratory, the Dalhousie Distributed Research Institute and Virtual Environment (D-DRIVE), to support an “advanced collaborative environment” where display technologies, next generation input technologies, and wireless networking combine to enable highly collaborative and distributed real-time interactions to take place. The use of such technologies also permits the easy meshing of high-performance computing into research interactions.


 It is intended that the core use of the space will be on highly mathematical and scientific tasks, for example, research collaborations between university faculty, research collaborations between universities and industry, and research analysis of mentoring and teaching interactions within and between universities and schools. Necessary mathematical OCR tools and software will be acquired.


One central feature of the laboratory will be large (greater than 50 inch diagonal size) tiled multi-touch sensitive, high-resolution display panels that permit users and researchers to interact directly with the panels rather than through the usual keyboard or mouse. In addition, there will be a variety of stereo visualization devices and multicast AccessGrid capacity for computing and grid collaboration. A proportion of the budget is earmarked for a refresh of equipment in this rapidly changing period. An Apple G5 computer cluster (see also Apple's Advanced Computation Group and XGrid) and a file server will be installed to explore cost effective computation and to serve visualizations to remote sites.


Wireless will be installed to permit laptops and other devices to be integrated dynamically into the room so that those devices become an integral part of the environment. Corresponding networking components will be installed to permit additional devices such as cell phones, pagers, and hand-held organizers to be integrated into the environment, or used remotely.


Various other input and output devices will be installed. Additionally, the laboratory will contain various pieces of video equipment so that the use of the facility may be captured and studied. This will also allow for production of video output to aid dissemination of research findings and to enhance distance collaboration and distributed visualization.


D-DRIVE will be housed at Dalhousie University within the Computer Science Building—initially in roughly 625 square feet. Since there are no commercial, off-the-shelf, options for most such highly collaborative software, a certain amount of the software will have to be written to enable the level of integration required of the infrastructure.