Brown University Opens Highly Advanced Digital Lab

Brown University has got some cool new toys to play with. Later this month, the Ivy League university’s Rockefeller Library will open the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, and from the photographs we’ve seen, it looks like a concept straight out of Minority Report.

But can it run Crysis?

We’re not talking about simple digital projectors here and maybe an iPad or two. The room features a massive grid of ultra-resolution monitors. According to the Brown Daily Herald:

The monitors in the lab use 24 million pixels to provide the highest resolution imaging available on campus. Each of the 12 seats in front of the display includes a cord that can plug into any laptop. The laptop’s display is then converted into a high-resolution image that can be shown on the monitors. There are numerous configurations capable for display, and up to 12 different computers can be projected at the same time.

The lab also comes equipped with a surround-sound audio system, two cameras for video conference calls, and additional touch-screen monitors.

The massive wall of digital goodness at the front of the lab can be used for a variety of purposes. Science classes can magnify the microscopic to appear huge for maximum observation. Artists could display digital art on the screen. And you know, I’ll bet watching Avatar would be pretty amazing in that room.

The idea for the project came from a 2007 research project which was working on digitizing one of the largest paintings in the world, the Garibaldi Panorama. Look at that! You painstakingly work to recreate a landmark of Italian art and suddenly you’ve made a contribution to the world of education technology.

A very expensive contribution. I don’t even know what the Digital Scholarship Lab cost Brown University. But one anonymous donor has an idea of the price-tag.

“The production of new kinds of scholarship like visual literacy is becoming increasingly more important,” said librarian Harriet Hemmasi. “We have to recognize that people learn in different ways all around us. The visual and multimedia cannot be ignored.”