Virtual reality tools for research, teaching to be highlighted at Envision Center open house

A game that could lead to discovering new drugs, a way to do that grasshopper dissection for biology lab without getting your hands messy, and some of the latest virtual reality technology will be on display when ITaP’s Envision Center showcases its work at an open house on Tuesday, April 11, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Refreshments will be served, and faculty, students and staff who attend can learn how the center’s expertise in virtual reality and data visualization might enhance their research and teaching.  

The event, which is free and open to the public, is part of the center’s annual celebration of its founding in April 2004. It will take place in the Envision Center, Stewart Center, Room B0001, which is located off the tunnel between Stewart Center and the Purdue Memorial Union.

The Envision Center’s staff and student employees work with faculty partners and external clients to create virtual reality and data visualization tools for research and educational use. The center also collaborates on grant proposals and develops promotional media such as publication quality stills and animated videos.

Recent projects on display at the open house will include a three-dimensional grasshopper dissection tool built by computer graphics technology students for entomology professor Christian Oseto, a drug discovery video game that is the result of a collaboration between the center and Gaurav Chopra, an assistant professor of chemistry, and a 3-D virtual version of ABIL, Purdue’s biology lab designed with accessibility in mind, developed with Brad Duerstock, associate professor of engineering practice.

Drug discovery game is demonstrated to astronaut Buzz Aldrin as he tours the Envision Center

Visitors also can experience the center’s progress using some of the latest and greatest technology, including the Microsoft HoloLens, a mixed reality headset that integrates 3-D digital images into a user’s real environment, and the HTC VIVE, a virtual reality headset with wireless hand controls that lets a user completely immerse themselves in the virtual environment.

In addition, the open house will highlight the Virtuix Omni treadmill, which allows the user to move their entire body through a virtual space, as opposed to just their hands and arms. The Envision Center received one of the first 50 Omnis ever produced and has used it to investigate how virtual reality can be made more accessible to the visually impaired.

For more information about working with the Envision Center or questions about the open house, contact Laura Theademan, the center’s program manager, ltheadem@purdue.edu, or George Takahashi, the center’s technical lead, gtakahas@purdue.edu.

Writer:  Adrienne Miller, science and technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), 765-496-8204, mill2027@purdue.edu.

Last updated: March 29, 2017

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