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While the massive increase in computational power has made it possible to routinely manage extremely large and complex data sets and computations, the ability of human users to deal with them has been trailing behind. Given the types of problems that are addressed today by scientists, engineers and other users, it is critical that human intelligence and computing power complement each other through rich interaction (between humans and computers) and collaboration (among humans using computers). Whether it is about testing hypotheses, detecting unexpected patterns or supporting creativity, to name a few, neither humans nor computers alone suffice. Novel tools, both hardware and software, are necessary to address these challenges.
Digiscope is a digital microscope: its goal is to support advanced interactive visualisation and analysis of complex data sets and computation by deploying a large, interconnected hardware and software infrastructure. Digiscope consists of a collection of hardware platforms, each with different features addressing specific needs, connected so as to maximize the potential for collaboration among both local and distant users.
Digiscope is used to conduct research in interactive and collaborative visualization, in order to develop and deploy software tools that interoperate across the various platforms, and will make these tools available to a wide range of users for their own projects. Digiscope is also used in a number of application areas, including:
• Scientific discovery;
• Design, engineering and manufacturing;
• Decision-support systems, including crisis management; and
• Education and training.
The project is coordinated by the Fondation de Coopération Scientifique Campus Paris-Saclay with nine scientific partners: two universities (Paris-Sud and Versailles Saint-Quentin), three engineering schools (Telecom ParisTech, ENS Cachan and Centrale Supelec), three research institutes (CNRS, CEA, Inria) and a research institute (Maison de la Simulation).
The research teams directly involved in the project specialize in a variety of topics: human-computer interaction, information visualization, scientific visualization, virtual and augmented reality, modeling and simulation, applied mathematics, fluid mechanics, astrophysics, economics.
Digiscope is an "Equipement d'Excellence" (advanced infrastructure) project funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR) as part of the French government's "Programme Investissements d'Avenir" (Investment program for the future) and by the ten project partners. The overall budget is 22 million euros, of which 6.7 million euros from ANR.
The project started in 2011 with two existing platforms: WILD at Université Paris-Sud and EVE at LIMSI-CNRS. Over the next four years, eight other platforms were designed and installed, as well as a digital fabrication lab. The last platform and the telepresence network will be operational by summer, 2016.