APL Colloquium

September 30, 2011

Colloquium Topic: A Digital Wonderland: Virtual Reality Applications for Everybody

From the pioneering technologies from the early 90s to today’s technologies, Virtual Reality has captivated the imagination of researchers, practitioners, and the general public. This technology has revolutionized the way we communicate with computers, and even more exciting, the way we communicate and interact among ourselves. In the scientific realm, virtual reality is allowing us to gain insight in particular problem domains like never before; we can collaborate with our colleagues, locally or remotely, and we can better communicate our discoveries to others through powerful virtual reality experiences. In the industry realm, virtual reality serves as a tool that enables companies to respond to today’s global market opportunities and competitive pressure; it provides an integrated environment for the design, analysis, test, and evaluation of products and processes, therefore shortening the product development cycle and reducing risks. In the imagination realm, virtual reality has become a wonderland to explore our minds, create impossible worlds, and produce enjoyable and engaging experiences for everybody. This talk presents the author’s personal experiences since the early days of the field, performing pioneering work creating the underlining technologies and exploring a wide range of application domains and her perspective on what’s next for this exciting discipline.

Colloquium Speaker: Carolina Cruz-Neira

Dr. Carolina Cruz-Neira is the W. Hansen Hall and Mary Officer Hall/BORSF Endowed Super Chair in Telecommunications in Computer Engineering and the Chief Scientist of LITE at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Prior to being in Louisiana, Dr. Cruz was the Stanley Chair in Interdisciplinary Engineering and the Associate Director and co-founder of the Virtual Reality Applications Center at Iowa State University. She is best known by being the lead developer of the CAVE technology and for her extensive work in studying the applicability and tangible benefits of virtual reality technology in research, industry, and government sectors. She spearheaded the open-source virtual reality software movement with the development of VR Juggler and has been an advocate of best practices on how to build and run VR facilities and applications. She has chaired several international conferences, given over fifty keynote addresses, served in a number of review boards for national and international funding agencies, and participated in technology advisory task forces defining the research directions of her field. Beyond her academic career, Dr. Cruz is a business entrepreneur. She co-founded Glass House Studio, a company dedicated to create virtual experiences and she also co-founded Infiscape Corporation, a services company in immersive applications and high-end interactive graphics. She serves on many advisory boards, including Sensics Inc., Mersive and Micoy and has performed corporate consulting for many companies around the world. She has also designed and produced stage performances and public exhibits in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Orlando, Tokyo, Madrid, Barcelona, Florence and other places combining technology, dance, theater, and art. Among her many achievements, in 1997, Business Week magazine named Dr. Cruz a "rising research star" in the new generation of computer science pioneers. In 2001 she received the Boeing A.D. Welliver Award, in 2002 she was inducted as Eminent Engineer by the Tau Beta Pi Honors Society, in 2003 she was inducted as a Computer Graphics Pioneer by the ACM SIGGRAPH organization, in 2007 she was the recipient of the Virtual Reality Technical Achievement Award from the IEEE Visualization and Graphics Technical Committee (VGTC), and in 2009 she received the International Digital Media and the Arts Association Distinguished Career Award. Dr. Cruz has a PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and a master's degree in EECS at UIC. She graduated cum laude in Systems Engineering at the Universidad Metropolitana at Caracas, Venezuela.