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Envision Center showcases innovation at recent campus events

  • Science Highlights

Festival of Teaching and Learning

On the afternoon of April 12th, 2024, the Envision Center took part in Purdue University’s Festival of Teaching and Learning, hosted by the Blue Sky Teaching and Learning Laboratory. The festival was held to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the John Martinson Honors College, with a goal of highlighting pedagogical best practices and innovations from departments and individuals across campus. Anyone who has created learning opportunities for Purdue students was invited to share their innovations, methodologies, or technologies at the hands-on exhibition.

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The Rosen Center for Advanced Computing’s Envision Center participated in the festival. Dr. Eric Palmer, Lead Research Scientist at the Envision Center, along with Julian Triveri, Associate Research Software Engineer, and Aaron Ni, a student employee, packed up a number of Virtual Reality (VR) headsets and transported them to Honors Hall, where they set up an interactive booth. During the festival, the group showcased some of the work produced by the center’s Extended Reality (XR) Lab, including the newly developed Collab XR platform. Collab XR is a shared environment that allows anyone in a headset to view and interact with the same virtual content pieces together, viewed in fully virtual (the entire field of vision is virtual, obscuring all of the real environment, and other participants appear as virtual avatars) or passthrough augmented reality (cameras feed the real room and people to the headset view, overlaying virtual content to appear to exist in the same space). This innovative technology can be used both inside and outside of the classroom for a variety of teaching and learning purposes.

“Part of Envision's XR Lab outreach is to inform members of campus of the current state of XR technology and how it is being used for research and education,” says Dr. Palmer. “We work with it every day, but those who don't have the same regular exposure may not know what is available or what it can do. By participating in the Festival of Teaching and Learning, we were able to showcase our work and services to a broader audience.”

The faculty, staff, and students that visited the Envision Center’s table gained first hand experience of the multi-user Collab XR platform, as well as an understanding of what the center has done with it so far and what they plan to do next. Once word got around that VR headsets were being used for research and educational purposes and that participants of the festival could try them out, the booth was overwhelmingly busy, a fact that delighted the group from the Envision Center.

“We have opportunities to provide demonstrations that can be scheduled to occur at Envision, but one has to know the opportunity exists to embrace it,” says Dr. Palmer. “We'd rather not have the potential of Envision's XR technology offerings be one of Purdue's better-kept secrets, so we take our show on the road for events like the Festival of Teaching and Learning. To have such excitement at our booth was extremely gratifying, and in fact, several visitors discussed potential collaboration with us on different projects during the event. We appreciated the chance to demonstrate the Collab XR platform at the festival, and we look forward to being invited back to share our further developments in the future.”

To learn more about the XR Lab and to view an example of the Collab XR platform, please visit the Envision XR Lab webpage:

Spring Fest

The Envision Center also participated in Spring Fest, an annual free community festival hosted by the College of Agriculture that took place on campus on Saturday, April 13.

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Spring Fest took place in the College of Agriculture buildings and grounds, as well as the College of Veterinary Medicine and Memorial Mall. Community members and students were invited to participate in immersive activities that cover a range of subjects, including science, technology, engineering and the arts.

Activities at Spring Fest include a petting zoo, plant sales, live music and the legendary Bug Bowl, featuring the Cockroach Coliseum and honey tasting.

In keeping with the insect theme, the Envision Center showcased its insect dissection virtual reality application, along with 3D animal scans and a supernova remnant visualization.

George Takahashi, lead visualization scientist for the Envision Center, estimates that more than 100 people, many of them children, tried out the hands-on technology at Spring Fest and were excited by the experience.

A photo gallery from the 2024 Spring Fest is available here.

Written by: Adrienne Miller and Jonathan Poole

Originally posted: