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Nicholas Lipari

UL Lafayette student Nicholas Lipari is using 3-D technology to make big data useful.

He’s working on a project for the national Center for Visual and Decision Informatics, a collaborative effort of UL Lafayette, Drexel University, the National Science Foundation and industry.

Lipari, who’s pursuing a doctorate in computer science, is using data collected when Hurricane Isaac made landfall in Louisiana in August 2012. Sensors, installed on levees in and around New Orleans, recorded water levels as the storm moved inland.

His goal is to create a way to monitor real-time data, so the user can make decisions based on that information.

“We’ve become accustomed to using a computer keyboard or mouse in relation to a 2-D display. But we haven’t worked out the conventions of the 3-D environment. It’s sort of like the difference between driving a car and flying a helicopter, and obviously, it takes a lot of training to be able to fly a helicopter. We’re working to create an intuitive way to manipulate information in a 3-D world,” Lipari said.

He is writing software to enable people to use hand-held devices, such as smart phones or computer tablets, to interact with a 3-D display.

“We also want to take advantage of affordable, widely available components, such as 3-D televisions,” he added.