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Tech giants fund new virtual and augmented reality lab at U Washington

By David Schwartz
Published: January 9th, 2018

The University of Washington announced a new VR and AR research hub called UW Reality Lab, funded by $2 million contributions from Facebook, Google, and Huawei.

The center, located at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, will serve as home to a state-of-the-art lab and “one of the world’s first academic centers dedicated to virtual and augmented reality,” according to UW officials.

“Through our partnership with Facebook, Google, and Huawei, the Allen School and UW will be at the forefront of the next great wave of AR and VR innovation — pursuing breakthrough research and educating the next generation of innovators in this exciting and rapidly expanding field,” said Allen School Director Hank Levy.

Students and faculty inside the lab will focus on building a wide range of applications, from gaming and video to 3D computer vision and perception and object recognition, among others.

“We’re seeing some really compelling and high quality AR and VR experiences being built today,” said Steve Seitz, an Allen School professor who is co-leading the new center. “But, there are still many core research advances needed to move the industry forward — tools for easily creating content, infrastructure solutions for streaming 3D video, and privacy and security safeguards — that university researchers are uniquely positioned to tackle.”

The center builds on existing VR and AR research being done at the UW’s top-ranked computer science school. The UW’s CoMotion Innovation hub also includes incubator space for VR and AR start-ups.

The new lab adds to a growing VR and AR ecosystem in the Seattle region, where companies big and small are working on cutting-edge hardware and software.

The participating companies at the UW Reality Lab, which have substantial engineering offices in the Seattle area, will provide access to their technology and use the lab as a way to test new ideas, the UW said.

“We are thrilled to play a part here at Facebook and Oculus in educating and collaborating with the next generation of AR and VR researchers to accelerate the power of this technology,” said Michael Cohen, director of computational photography at Facebook and now one of six members of the lab’s advisory board. Other members are Oculus Chief Scientist Michael Abrash; PerceptiveIO CTO Shahram Izadi; Google Daydream Senior Researcher Paul Debevec; Huawei Senior Architect of Fields Lab Wei Su; and Huawei Chief Architect and Head of Fields Lab Fan Zhang.

Source: GeekWire

Posted under: Industry-Sponsored Research Week

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