The Cube

Unique in the world, the Cube is a four-story-high, state-of-the-art theatre and high tech laboratory that serves multiple platforms of creative practice by faculty, students, and national and international guest artists and researchers. The Cube is a highly adaptable space for research and experimentation in big data exploration, immersive environments, intimate performances, audio and visual installations, and experiential investigations of all types. This facility is shared between ICAT and the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech.

"You Can Almost Feel The Tremors as Wind Rips Away Nails and Wood"

Originally built as a black-box theater, the Cube is shared between ICAT and Virginia Tech’s Moss Arts Center, used for both art projects and scientific research. This doesn’t necessarily have to involve VR; in 2013, the Cube theater hosted a live performance called Operacraft, where K-12 students used Minecraft avatars — projected onto a wall — to perform an opera sung by Virginia Tech musicians.

One of the Cube’s biggest selling points is its sound system, which creates deafening 360-degree audio with 124 standard speakers, four subwoofers, and nine additional speakers that project hyper-targeted sound, like the aural equivalent of a spotlight. It’s possible to create things that could never be replicated with an ordinary sound system, like an experimental composition by ICAT media engineer Tanner Upthegrove that sends metal and chainsaws whirling around the room and wouldn’t feel out of place in Hellraiser. Close your eyes in another demo — a recording from inside a tornado — and you can almost feel the tremors as wind rips away nails and wood.

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Photo courtesy of The Verge
Photo courtesy of The Verge
Highlights of the Cube

First of its kind, full-scale (50’w x 40’l x 32’h), $15M data exploration facility

Response to the U.S. initiative on “big data”

Unlike traditional virtual environments, this collaborative research environment for augmented team exploration (CREATE) enables multi-person (social) collaboration with data

Capabilities of the Cube

Augmented reality (head-mounted display and tablet interaction interface)

Wave field synthesis and holosonic sound display interaction

Synchronized data capture, including Information Retrieval motion capture, audio/video, physiological, and interaction signals

Real-time audio/visual rendering system

Applications of the Cube

High-performance computing

Real-time interaction research

Virtual vs. real world investigations

Human performance modeling and studies

Distributed gaming and social environments

Multi-person “walk-through” of virtual buildings and environments

Education and training in full-scale virtual environments

Artistic installations/performances using multi-screen display and a 128-speaker system

Abstract data interaction and exploration, including bioinformatics, social networks, transportation, security, biological and veterinary science, and more