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Internet2 Augmented Reality Contest Winner: RIT with Mixed Reality for Live Performances!

Oct 06, 2016, by Ben Fineman
Tags: 2016 Technology Exchange, Internet2 Member, Microsoft

This summer, Internet2 announced a contest for submissions of research and education related projects using augmented reality, with a Microsoft HoloLens going to the winning institution. The response was amazing and we received a number of really great proposals including a wifi coverage visualizer, an interactive art gallery, student recognition and lecture note prompting, and enhanced lab environments for pharmacy students. I'm glad I didn’t have to choose the best one as it was a very difficult task – many thanks to our selection committee that included Gurcharan Khanna, Executive Director of the Center for Computation & Visualization at Brown University, Amela Sadagic, Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, and Kevin Ponto, Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The winning proposal was announced last week at the Internet2 Technology Exchange in Miami, FL. In case you missed it, the winner is...the Rochester Institute of Technology with their proposal Mixed Reality for Live Performances! The proposal was presented by Joe Geigel, Professor of Computer Science at RIT. This is a project that Joe is so passionate about that he took a semester of sabbatical leave so that he could work on it full time. Essentially the concept is to have dancers physically performing on stage but mapped in realtime into virtual environments, such that they can be viewed in person as a mixed reality performance, or remotely as a virtual performance. The great thing is that RIT has already done a performance like this as a proof of concept – but the augmented reality hardware they had available was two dimensional and not really suited to the application. The Microsoft HoloLens and its realtime 3D environment mapping will provide an immersive experience for the dancers that will hopefully take the performance to an entirely new level. RIT has created a video demonstration of their first proof of concept.

University performing arts programs have historically pushed the boundaries for networked realtime audio/visual collaboration, and I am excited to see that trend continue into the realm of augmented and virtual reality. I'm also looking forward to seeing the results of RIT's research in this space, to be presented in April 2017 at the Internet2 Global Summit - consider joining us in Washington DC if you’d like to see how it turns out!