UW Reality Lab launches with $6M from tech companies to advance augmented and virtual reality research

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January 8, 2018

The UW Reality Lab will focus on developing next-generation virtual and augmented reality technologies and educating an industry workforce. In this holographic chess game developed by UW students, opponents move pieces that can only be seen through a virtual reality headset.Dennis Wise/University of Washington

The University of Washington is launching a new augmented and virtual reality research center — funded by Facebook, Google, and Huawei — to accelerate innovation in the field and educate the next generation of researchers and practitioners.
The $6 million UW Reality Lab, funded with equal contributions from the three initial sponsors, creates one of the world’s first academic centers dedicated to virtual and augmented reality. The new center in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering and located in Seattle — a national hub of VR activity — will support research and education initiatives with potential to deliver game-changing breakthroughs in the field.
“Allen School faculty have produced pioneering research in many of the areas that underpin AR and VR technologies, including computer vision, graphics, perception, and machine learning,” said Hank Levy, Allen School director and Wissner-Slivka Chair in Computer Science and Engineering. “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.”
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To date, AR and VR applications are making their first steps, mostly focusing on entertainment and games. Yet everyone is interested to find the “killer app” for AR and VR. The goal of the UW Reality Lab is to develop technology to power the next generation of applications that will speak to a wider population. Those diverse ideas range from learning Spanish by seeing objects labeled in your …

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