Carolina Cruz-Neira was appointed the Director of the Emerging Analytics Center and Donaghey Professor at the University of Arkansas Little Rock in 2014 where her expertise in virtual reality helped her to work with industries across the board to implement broader use of this technology not only at the center but in a more mobile format.
Cruz-Neira graduated with a degree in systems engineering in 1987 from Universidad Metropolitana in Caracas, Venezuela and earned her master’s degree from University of Illinois, Chicago in 1991 focusing on electrical engineering and computer science. This was followed by her Ph.D. in 1995. As part of her doctoral dissertation she designed and developed a virtual reality system dubbed CAVE, designed and implemented the CAVELib software API, and was the architect of the Open Source API VR Juggler.
The CAVE system has been compared to the holodeck system shown on the science fiction program Star Trek the Next Generation. Used on the show as a form of entertainment, the CAVE system is seen as a multifunctioning tool for a variety of applications. CAVE systems can be found on many university campuses as well as in industrial settings. The interaction between the user in an immersive environment and the environment itself allows the user the ability to manipulate objects that cannot be easily manipulated in reality. Engineers can create and test designs before incurring the cost of actual products and doctors can use the system to “step inside” a virtual rendering of an MRI and make a better diagnosis than with the traditional ways to view the scan results. In the past someone wanting to use this system had to travel to a center housing a CAVE system. Now under the direction of Cruz-Neira researchers are striving to take this technology on the road with their work at the Emerging Analytics Center at the University of Arkansas.
Cruz-Neira feels that “What limits what we can do is how far we can think, our imaginations. If you can think about something, no matter how challenging, we should be able to make it happen.”
Suggested By: William Russell
Written by Angela Goad