Montana State University

MSU to debut new visualization and collaboration technology

January 9, 2017 -- By Anne Cantrell, MSU News Service

Jonathan Hilmer, right, prepares an array of television screens for the CyberCANOE system in the Renne Library atrium at Montana State University, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Bozeman, Mont. CyberCANOE is a data visualization and collaboration platform. MSU photo by Adrian Sanchez-GonzalezJonathan Hilmer, center, prepares an array of television screens for the CyberCANOE system in the Renne Library atrium at Montana State University, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Bozeman, Mont. CyberCANOE is a data visualization and collaboration platform. MSU photo by Adrian Sanchez-GonzalezFacilities crews install television screens for the CyberCANOE system in the MSU Library atrium at Montana State University, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Bozeman, Mont. CyberCANOE is a data visualization and collaboration platform. MSU photo by Adrian Sanchez-GonzalezJonathan Hilmer helps facilities crews install television screens for the CyberCANOE system in the Renne Library atrium at Montana State University, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Bozeman, Mont. CyberCANOE is a data visualization and collaboration platform. MSU photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez

Jonathan Hilmer, right, prepares an array of television screens for the CyberCANOE system in the Renne Library atrium at Montana State University, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Bozeman, Mont. CyberCANOE is a data visualization and collaboration platform. MSU photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez

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BOZEMAN — Montana State University will soon debut new technology that will allow students and faculty to collaborate using large, interactive flat-screen monitors. Administrators say the innovation – which will enable researchers to analyze complicated data comprehensively at one time – should yield new discoveries.

The technology is known as CyberCANOE, which is an acronym for Cyber-enabled Collaboration Analysis Navigation and Observation Environment. CyberCANOE is a combination of hardware – including four 60-inch flat screen monitors – and software that provide visualization and collaboration capabilities. With it, multiple researchers will be able to connect their laptops to the system through Wi-Fi and interact with it simultaneously, sharing documents, images and other data. The technology originally was developed by a professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa with funding from the National Science Foundation, and it has since been implemented at other universities.

CyberCANOE allows students and researchers to work together more effectively using large amounts of data and information, according to Kenning Arlitsch, dean of the MSU Library. Its possibilities are endless, he added.

“This is a technology that we are going to put in front of students and faculty and see what they do with it,” Arlitsch said. “We’re excited to see what they will do.”

Jerry Sheehan, MSU vice president and chief information officer, said that with dramatic accelerations in computer and data science, students need to have the skills to work in a world where computing and working with data sets is dominant.

“The CyberCANOE creates an interactive digital wallpaper for our students and faculty to use to collaborate, allowing them to push data from their personal computing and mobile devices to a much higher resolution visual instrument for identifying patterns and creating insight,” Sheehan said.

Sheehan added that while the possibilities are unlimited, examples of current research that could benefit from the CyberCANOE technology include neural mapping, atmospheric sciences, coding, and collaborative artistic projects, such as filmmaking. 

Sheehan also noted that new research discoveries are likely at MSU with CyberCANOE technology.

“CyberCANOEs can really be the vessels for discovery and knowledge as data visualization and research collaboration often yield understanding of the data being viewed and discovery of trends and aspects that may otherwise be missed or not as obvious until rendered visually,” Sheehan said.

At MSU, the CyberCANOE is slated to be installed in a public space on the first floor of the MSU Library that draws a great deal of foot traffic. The public site was intentionally chosen to help pique users’ curiosity, Arlitsch said. The space will also feature comfortable seating in front of the screens.

CyberCANOE at MSU is a joint effort of the Library and the Information Technology Center. It was developed through DISC, an initiative MSU launched last year that is designed to provide services for student and faculty researchers throughout the entire research cycle. DISC refers to Data Infrastructure and Scholarly Communication.

CyberCANOE at MSU will officially launch during the library’s open house, “Astounding Stories of a Super-Library,” set for 3:15-6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10. The open house is free, and members of the campus community and public are invited to attend. For more information about the open house, contact Jan Zauha at 994-6554 or jzauha@montana.edu.

Contact: Kenning Arlitsch, (406) 994-6978 or kenning.arlitsch@montana.edu; or Jerry Sheehan, (406) 994-2525 or jsheehan@montana.edu