“XR Studio Mission: Students, faculty and staff in this studio work collaboratively on components of virtual spaces, immersive, interactive, multimedia experiences. Intra-media explorations pull apart the components, examine how they work together, and re-assemble them to create interesting and informative pieces. Inter-media explorations look at how the XR technologies interact with activities in physical and other digital spaces. Students, faculty and staff work collaboratively on ways to “break the box” and have meaningful interactions with people in different geographic locations.”
Last fall, DLINQ hosted a gathering of people from Middlebury, Vermont and Monterey, California that were working with XR (Extended Reality) technologies. The small group of interested attendees shared their work with each other, then discussed the value of using XR technologies for academic work. One of the big takeaways was that we needed another event.
On Friday, April 26th, a group of innovators, tinkerers, and explorers gathered in the Dance Theater to share what they have been doing with extended reality (XR) technologies. Each exhibit and experience was a unique demonstration of human-computer, physical and digital interaction. The stage lighting set an energetic tone for attendees, and made for great pictures.
Fiona Sullivan and Kyle Meredith, known together as Iris, kicked-off the even with a live performance. Fiona improvised and sang with originally composed looped and pre-recorded tracks, while Kyle accompanied her with visualizations that were controlled by his hand gestures using a Leap Motion. The audience was treated to a collaborative improv when Professor Peter Hamlin joined them with his own live electronic music.
After the live performance the attendees got up from their seats and traveled around the room. At each station the presenter talked about their project.
Sea Level Rise Explorer
Dr. Juliano Calil traveled from the west coast where he is a Center for the Blue Economy Senior Fellow, and Adjunct Faculty at the Middlebury Institute. Juliano’s team at Virtual Planet created a vr experience, the Sea Level Rise Explorer using drone footage collected by Juliano. The Oculus Go app places the viewer in one of three locations in Santa Cruz, California and allows them to project future sea level rise based on climate change models. Dr. Calil is talking with other coastal communities about creating similar immersive visualization models to raise public awareness and influence policy.
Augmented Reality Sandbox
Thanks to Assistant Professor of Geology Kristina Walowski we were able to share the AR Sandbox. Sam Kaelin ’19.5 built the sandbox using Microsoft Kinnect 3D Camera, a digital video projector, a computer, and sand. As the attendees moved the sand around the box the colorful topographic map changed showing new elevations. Next to the sandbox attendees could spend time using the Theta 360 camera and the Oculus Go.
Custom Playlist Experience
Michelle Lehman shared a project that she had been working on in collaboration with the National Mental Health Innovation Center. This application will be an immersive, 180 degree virtual reality experience designed to deliver a music therapy intervention for patients in palliative care.
Motion Capture Suit
Marquise Adeleye donned the Dance Program’s motion capture suit. As he moved around the Expo a digital mannequin, projected on a large screen, mimicked his movements. Every movement was tracked; from complicated dance moves, to simple moves, like sitting.
Music in a Virtual World
Next to Middlebury’s Oculus Rift, Professor Hamlin shared his latest creations:A geometric design of Lissajous figures floating and slowly changing in space with original music inspired by the visuals, and Bronze spheres dropping from the sky making bell-tones as they land. This one was a simple demonstration created in just a few hours to show the accessibility of the Windows vr development system. Attendees could experience music using Windows Mixed Reality headsets, demonstrated on a Surface Book 2 15″ laptop and the Music Department’s Dell VR workstation.
Attendees were then allowed to wander around the room, spend time with each exhibit and ask questions. After about an hour we pried ourselves away from the other realities and had a conversation about the future of these technologies at Middlebury. A common theme was connection, that there was a lot of value in getting everyone together to share what we were working on. Michele noted the value of talking with people who were using similar tools, like Unity, and Marquise talked about how invaluable his partnership was with Alfredo Torres, the DLINQ Fellow. Kyle shared that while the explorations, themselves, are worthwhile, at some point you want to make something in order to keep learning about the technology. Could there be a way for interested people to reach out to Creators for collaboration? There was unanimous agreement that an event like this needed to happen again, possibly in the fall and spring, and that there is interest for continuing connections — within the college community, with Monterrey, and with others with similar interests beyond the campus.
Thank you to Marquise, Juliano, Peter, Sam, Michele, Kyle, Fiona, and Kristina for sharing your work for the event. You inspired the attendees, and gave them a lot to think about. This was evident when they had a hard time leaving the exhibits at the end of the event.
Jennifer, thank you to you and your staff for allowing us to use the space and for the setup, the Dance Theater was a perfect venue.
Alfredo, thank you for all of your hard work in helping to coordinate and market the event as part of your position as the first DLINQ Fellow. We look forward to hearing about all of the great work you do after graduating from Middlebury this Spring!