Experience, explore, and experiment through extended reality (XR)
Equipped with extended reality (XR) and other technologies, tools, and staff, Studio X is slated to open in the fall of 2020 on the River Campus. Inside Studio X, students and faculty will fully engage in multi-sensory experiences, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). It will be where creativity and deep interdisciplinary learning will flourish, aided by the rich interactive experiences these new technologies will facilitate.
XR technologies have the potential to transform everything from education to entertainment to health care. With nearly 60 faculty in 16 academic departments already using these technologies, the University is fast-becoming a powerhouse in this area.
Studio X will provide all of this and more. Students, faculty, and researchers will thrive here, and they will explore how immersive technology can advance education, research, and discovery.
Designed in collaboration with the River Campus Libraries and Arts, Sciences & Engineering, Studio X will serve the entire University of Rochester community. The planned 3,000-square-foot-space will be located on the first floor of the Carlson Science and Engineering Library, situated near the Vista Collaboratory, a high-tech space where researchers visualize large data sets to study everything from contemporary disease to ancient history. This is the ideal location for Studio X.
Studio X will facilitate new learning opportunities. For example:
- Art history students can walk through an art exhibit in Paris and virtually hold and examine works of art.
- Engineering students can design and build digital structures and actually walk through them, using staircases and sitting on furniture.
- Anthropology students can visit ancient cities to understand life in the time and place they are studying.
“Knowing that students are very interested in XR, it would be helpful to have a dedicated AR/VR space where they can engage in learning outside of the classroom, including hands-on labs and workshops.”
–Zhen Bai, assistant professor in the computer science department
Go back in time to experience two historic landmarks. Immersive technologies, like those that will be available in Studio X, will expand opportunities to explore and learn about places like these.
In “Digital Elmina,” three University of Rochester faculty members—Renato Perucchio, professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering and director of the archeology, technology, and historic structures program; Michael Jarvis, associate professor of history and director of Smiths Island archeology project; and Christopher Muir, professor of mechanical engineering—created 3D reconstructions of Elmina Castle, which were then visualized through Unity Gaming Engine.
Built in 1482, Elmina is the best-preserved and most complete example of early European masonry construction in Ghana and served as an active commercial outpost over four centuries. Immersive technologies help us understand Elmina Castle’s past, convey this knowledge in the present, and ensure the castle’s survival in the future.
The Temple of Jupiter
Elizabeth Colantoni, associate professor of religion and classics, wanted to visualize ancient Roman topography to explore how the Temple of Jupiter fit within the larger context of Roman society. To do that, she collaborated with others at the University of Rochester to create the virtual reality experience seen here, which provides scholars and students new perspectives and expands scholarly conversation.
The experience is based on a model of the temple that Daniel Weiner ’16 (a dual major in computer science and classics) created as an undergraduate, using a program called Sketch-up. Then, in the fall of 2018, Blair Tinker, the Digital Scholarship Lab’s GIS specialist, built this virtual reconstruction, using combined spatial analysis and 3D modeling in Unity Gaming Engine.
Andrew White, assistant professor in the chemical engineering department, and April Luehmann, associate professor and director of secondary science education at the Warner School of Education, are collaborating on research that explores how AR can enhance the way students learn about engineering. Studio X will provide a much-needed space where educators can develop new approaches to increase student learning and engagement.
Duje Tadin, associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences; Jeffrey Bazarian, professor of emergency medicine; and Feng (Vankee) Lin, assistant professor in the School of Nursing, are working together to see how VR can help treat people with Alzheimer’s disease and those suffering from concussions. Through access to technology and training, Studio X will prepare students to collaborate on and conduct cutting edge research.
Virtual reality (VR) uses advanced display and immersive audio technologies to create an interactive, three-dimensional environment. Think of experiencing a roller coaster without actually being on one. Or walking through the great pyramids of Egypt from the comfort of your living room.
Augmented reality (AR) uses digital technology to overlay video and audio onto the physical world to provide information and embellish our experiences. Think of using AR to help you assemble a piece of furniture. Or use it to see if a table would fit in your dining room.
Extended reality (XR) is an umbrella term encapsulating AR, VR, and everything in between.
“I’m interested in learning how to build 3D collections of historical objects and recreating historical spaces or experiences. Knowing how to do this will help me stand out in the job market but without access to the right equipment, this won’t be possible.”
–James Rankine ’14 (MA), PhD candidate and Mellon Fellow in the history department
Join us now
The potential for immersive education through XR is nearly endless. Providing access to XR spaces, programs, experts, and experiences is a University priority. Philanthropy—and your generosity—will provide vital support.
We seek funds and corporate partnerships so that we can offer robust programs, rich technology, and the latest equipment. We have naming opportunities available for Studio X and its interior spaces including the heart of the space, known as the project room, along with collaboration rooms and a learning and salon hub.
We invite you to be part of changing the way we teach, learn, research, and discover.
—Kristine Thompson, August 2019