September 13, 2019, CHICAGO, IL: When students walk into MSOE’S augmented and virtual reality lab this fall, they may hope they’re building the next Ironman, but they’ll actually be doing something far more important – learning how to leverage the technology to help transform the way people interact with computers and other people.
“MSOE has always been about the practical application of technology,” says Seth Patin, a 2005 MSOE grad who is CEO and founder of Accelogix, a consulting firm that specializes in implementing warehouse management software; and LogistiVIEW, which has developed a warehouse automation platform that combines augmented reality, artificial intelligence and computer vision.
Patin says virtual reality is about replacing the physical world with a new, digitally created world, while augmented reality provides information about what you’re seeing in the world around you. Ironman’s suit is an excellent example of augmented reality, but there are more practical applications as well. For example, special glasses worn by warehouse workers can simplify their jobs by showing a green box over the shelf where the product is located or by showing a picture of the object they are looking for.
“Augmented reality and virtual reality can allow us to completely reinvent the way computers interface with people,” Patin says. “Humans are very visually oriented. As computers get smaller and networks move data faster, vision will be the way we interface with computers.”
The LogistiVIEW AR/VR Lab includes a “cave” that allows videos to be projected onto three walls. “The images are tied together to create an immersive environment,” says Derek Riley, Ph.D., computer science program director at MSOE. “We can use the cave to visualize molecular modeling or construction designs. What better way to understand the building you are designing than to walk through it before it has been built?”
“The lab will also be equipped with mixed-reality devices like Microsoft’s HoloLens and Vuzix that will let nursing students see and explore the entire organ structure,” Patin says. “It will teach nurses things they would not be able to do without working on an actual patient.”
“Even though this lab is in the computer science building, augmented and virtual reality are not necessarily computer concepts,” Patin says. “They are, in fact, concepts that impact any specialty’s ability to interact with the world with the assistance of a computer.”
“There are a few platforms on the market that already facilitate concepts around virtual and augmented reality,” Patin says. “A lot of the technology, however, is still being developed and that presents a huge opportunity for MSOE students. The computers of the next 10 or 15 years will be dreamt up in laboratories like this – because those computers will not be using keyboards or touch screens. It will be augmented reality and virtual reality.”
Article originally published in the Chicago Business Journal.