Exterior view of the C6 in the Howe Hall atrium
Stereographics LCD shutter glasses
Virtual Cell application (partially funded by NSF) running in 100 megapixel C6
Virtual Cell application (partially funded by NSF) running in 100 megapixel C6
Tom Batkiewicz and Don Norman with the UAV application in the C6 (Photo by Brett Schnepf)
100 megapixel C6 upgrade prototype projector stack with 4 Sony SRX-105 projectors
Mechdyne employee installs a lens in one of the 24 Sony SRX-105 projectors that illuminate the 100 megapixel C6
48 node image generator cluster that powers the graphics behind the 100 megapixel C6
Raising on of the 4 projectors used to project images on the ceiling of the C6.
Autodesk CONDUIT scened displayed in the 100 megapixel C6 using VRCO Conduit technology.

The C6

Illuminated by 100 million pixels, VRAC’s C6 displays over 16.7 million pixels per wall (4096x4096). Forty-eight dual-cpu workstations send images to 24 Sony SRX-S105 digital cinema projectors, providing an intensely detailed, high-resolution, immersive experience for researchers and other participants. In addition, audio immersion is possible through the upgraded 8.1 channel surround sound audio system. The multi-million dollar upgrade, completed in 2007, was engineered and implemented by Mechdyne Corporation.

The C6 is a three-dimensional, fully-immersive synthetic environment residing in the center atrium of Iowa State University’s Howe Hall. This unique facility consists of a 10ft x 10ft x 10ft room where all four walls, the floor and the ceiling are projection screens capable of displaying back-projected stereoscopic images, providing total immersion for the participants. The C6 incorporates a three-dimensional eight-channel surround sound system. Originally opened in 2000, the C6 was the first six-sided synthetic immersive environment in the world, and the only known system of its kind to support wireless tracking.

With the recent upgrade, the C6 is the highest resolution immersive environment of its kind in the world.

C6 Coverage

The C6, in Brief

The C6 is a 10x10x10 ft. room in which images generaare projected on all four walls, the ceiling, and the floor. It is located in the atrium of Howe Hall. In the C6, several participants can explore and interact with a virtual world simultaneously, sharing the experience.

Creating the Illusion

Advanced software and hardware are integrated to create virtual worlds that deliver interactive, fully immersive experiences. Speakers are mounted around the C6, giving participants the added sense of immersion through surround and localized sound.

Seeing In 3D

The computers render images for the right eye and left eye which are displayed in very rapid succession on the C6 viewing surfaces. Shutter glasses enable 3D viewing by ensuring that the user’s left eye and right eye see only the appropriate image.

Wireless Interaction

Participants interact with virtual worlds in the C6 using gloves, wands, and a variety of haptic devices. These devices are linked to the system via wireless communications, leaving the C6 space clear of anything that detracts from total immersion.

Wide-Open Spaces

With 1,000 cubic ft. of space, the C6 makes it easy to combine real interfaces, such as car and tractor bucks, with virtual environments.

The Glass-Bottom Room

A single 2,000 lb., 2-3/4-inch thick piece of Plexiglas allows images from the bottom projector to appear on the floor of C6.

The Big Picture Show

High-resolution color images are projected onto four walls, the ceiling, and the floor. The positioning of these projectors accounts for the exterior shape of the C6. Images from the projectors are coordinated to create a seamless real-time graphic display in the C6.

Modular Design

The C6 is built on a modular architecture, in which each screen and its associated technology is a separate unit. One of the screens is mounted on a pneumatically actuated frame to allow for access to the C6.


The C6 is connected to VRAC’s other immersive environments, including the four-wall C4 in Black Engineering Building and the auditorium in Howe Hall. The C6 is also connected to the vBNS backbone to support collaborative activities with national and international research laboratories.

Exterior Design

The very colorful part on the exterior of the C6 enclosure is a very thin micro-embossed film resembling a CD-ROM or holographic material. This film is sandwiched between clear acrylic to give it stability and also let if float off the primary surface of the C6 enclosure. These panels reflect light in a very active manner creating colorful reflections around the space surrounding the C6. The reflections colorfully interact with an individual's movement around this central space in Howe Hall in a very unusual manner also responsively to the viewer's place and spatial relationships around them. Direct light on this film reflects in a very prismatic way, where it is split into a red, green, blue and other parts of the visual spectrum, which further activates the space around the C6.