IVR Lab Shares VR Technology with Campus and Community
Northern Arizona University’s Immersive + Interactive Virtual Reality Lab opened its doors to the campus and community for its first-ever open house on March 8, 2017.
The lab’s official debut, held inside NAU’s School of Communication building, showcased the lab’s current projects and capabilities, and introduced visitors to virtual reality’s various applications and potential.
During the event, visitors had the opportunity to visit and interact with different virtual reality exhibits throughout the building. For many, this was their first encounter with immersive media technology.
Among the most popular exhibit was Oculus Medium, a 3-D content creation program that allows users to virtually draw, paint, and sculpt works of art. Upon creating an item in Medium, visitors were able to turn their digital creation into a tangible item with a 3D printer.
However, the open house presented opportunity for more than just games. In addition to introducing visitors to the VR technology, the open house served as a means to draw attention to the lab’s ongoing research and educational endeavors.
“When I started to think about what this technology could do I realized we could become a research-relevant school,” explained Giovanni Castillo, IVR Lab director. “Now we have the opportunity to collaborate with researchers, government institutions, and even private sector entities to create innovations with immersive media.”
In the past year since its inception, the lab has produced a number of VR projects, such as Mayan King, a program designed to recount life inside an ancient Mayan city, and ChemLab VR, a program that simplifies concepts in organic chemistry for students.
All of the programs were designed and produced by the lab’s undergraduate interns in collaboration with university scholars and researchers, and have the potential to transform traditional methods of education and learning.
In addition to over one hundred students, faculty, and community members, the event was attended by several university leaders including Tom Cheng, Center for Business Outreach entrepreneur in residence, Karen Pugliesi, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Diane Stearns, vice president of research.
About the Lab
Since its inception in Fall 2016, the IVR Lab has supported the university’s ongoing research mission and commitment to student success. In addition to creating more opportunities for grant-funded and undergraduate research, the lab has developed and proposed new ways to enhance traditional educational experiences.
To learn more about research opportunities and partnerships, contact Giovanni Castillo at Giovanni.Castillo@nau.edu.