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Gretchen Hall

Gretchen Hall

Software developer | Google | Class of 1999

Google software developer Gretchen Hall’s spot is the CAVE at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications — a 10 x 10 x 9-foot cube, "surrounded by millions of dollars’ worth of audio, visual and computing equipment," as she remembers it. 

“Most people experienced the CAVE on tours,” Hall says. “They would don their admittedly awkward equipment, step into the four walls, and after a quick command from a CAVE-adept would be transported in to an alternate reality, with 3-D visuals and octaphonic sound that responded to your every movement. There was literally no way not to compare it to Star Trek’s Holodeck. 

“For myself and a few others, though, it was much more important, as we had the access to program it, to spend long hours developing CAVE apps that brought to life our virtual reality creations. They may be artistic explorations, or demonstrations of abstruse mathematical concepts like hyperbolic geometry. 

“There were those of us who created fast-paced games, and those who developed tools for creation, such as Virtual Director, the cinematography tool used to build several award-winning IMAX and digital planetarium shows. 

“Last I knew, the original four-walled cave still existed, moved down to the South Farms, and kept around next to its newer, faster, six-walled progeny.”