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UC San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute Shows Off Virtual Reality, Wildfire Technology

Larry Smarr, director of California Institute for Telecommunications and Info...

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: Larry Smarr, director of California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, stands inside the "SunCAVE" at UC San Diego, March, 19, 2019.

The "SunCAVE" at UC San Diego's Qualcomm Institute has 70 monitors with 4K resolution that researchers said create the world's highest resolution virtual reality system.

"One of the things we’re doing here at UC San Diego is generating scientific and archaeological content at high resolution," said California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology Director Larry Smarr.

The virtual technology could be coming to consumers soon, Smarr said.

"Imagine, that in the future, these are the walls of your living room — forget the TV," he said. "Why not just have the walls be live internet displays? And I think that’s where we’re going."

RELATED: This UC San Diego Professor Planned His Surgery In Virtual Reality

CENIC conference attendees also got to hear how technology is helping fight wildfires.

"The interface is so simple that we actually train the fire departments to do the modeling themselves," said San Diego Supercomputer Center's Chief Data Science Officer IIkay Altintas.

Researchers have created models that when combined with wind speed and other weather conditions can predict what a fire will do.

"Wind-driven fires move really fast, but if you can get ahead of it you can manage it better," Altintas said.

The predictive models help first-responders coordinate evacuations during fires. Researchers also say cameras are key for tackling wildfires.

"It sounds like a trivial thing — but it’s the wildland and there’s hardly any connectivity in those places," Altintas said. "Being able to see the fire like this through those cameras it can be used for early detection it can be used for situational awareness."

There are fixed fire cameras all over San Diego County, that could soon expand to the entire state.

"So the future will be if you can imagine, all these cameras showing where the fires are and then the fire location, plus other information about the fires through satellites and sensors out there," Altintas said.

UC San Diego also showed off its unmanned aircraft technology that can help with building inspections.

Reported by Kris Arciaga

Technology to fight wildfires and the latest in virtual reality were on display at UC San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute this week part of CENIC's annual conference.

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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
Health Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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