Skip to content
NOWCAST KCCI News at 6am Weekday Morning
Live Now

Cube-shaped ISU room is like nothing you've ever seen

Cube-shaped ISU room is like nothing you've ever seen
500 Internal Server Error

Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error and was unable to complete your request. Either the server is overloaded or there is an error in the application.

Iowa State University's C6 simulator can take you inside a burning house, an active shooter situation and even a fire aboard the International Space Station.

View video


The C6 is a cube-shaped room in Howe Hall on the ISU campus in Ames. Every side of the cube lights up with images and with the addition of 3D glasses people go through a realistic virtual experience.

"Remember, it's a really, really heavy thing to do to close the hatch," said Nir Keren, an ISU associate professor of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering.

"Everything becomes real," said Elmer Tse, a junior in Aerospace Engineering at ISU.

"Some of the video games are getting extremely good, life like, but what they're missing is a sense of depth, a sense of just presences and that's what the C6 brings," said Peter Carlson, a C6 project 3D artist.

The C6 is lit up by 100 million pixels, images made by a highly advanced projection system. Every single side measures 10 feet and each side of the cube-shaped room adds to a viewer's 3D experience.

"This is a very sophisticated lab that creates this real life experience," said Keren.

Keren and a kinesiology professor are using the C6 to study and test how humans make decisions and respond in stressful situations.

"We measure heart rate, blood pressure," said Keren.

During one of their latest projects, aerospace engineering students taking a weeklong summer workshop in spaceflight operations visited a virtual International Space Station.

Once inside, a fire started and students had to figure out where it was and how to put it out.

"Your mind kind of plays a trick on you where you believe you're in a situation and you need to get the job done" said Elmer Tse, a junior in Aerospace Engineering at ISU.

Keren and his team have also created a burning house simulation for firefighters, and are working on an active shooter type situation for law enforcement training.

"You get a little bit of kind of the best of both worlds. You have a naturalistic environment with something that's familiar and close to real life, but you have a laboratory setting so that you have that repeatability and it's a safe environment," said Kevin Godby, a project lead developer.

Keren's team uses a self-created computer engine called VirtuTrace to develop the simulations.