Scientists in many fields today share a common challenge: How to truly understand overwhelming amounts of data?

Leigh, co-inventor of the virtual reality system, believes that this technology answers exactly that particular challenge.

In the system, known as CAVE2, a screen encircles the viewer 320 degrees. A panorama of images springs from 72 stereoscopic liquid crystal display panels, conveying a dizzying sense of being able to touch what’s not really there.

The computer scientists, however, have more serious matters in mind when they hand visitors 3D glasses and a controller called a “wand.”

“In the next five years, we anticipate using the CAVE to look at really large-scale data to help scientists make sense of that information. CAVEs are essentially fantastic lenses for bringing data into focus,” Leigh said.