Arts & Entertainment

CDI Receives Gifts from Facebook, Microsoft, and DataMax to Develop New Tech

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by Camel City Dispatch

By Staff

The Center for Design Innovation has recently received gifts from two global technology giants. Microsoft and Facebook have each provided CDI with cutting edge gear for their latest virtual and augmented reality platforms. With the purpose of academic research and exploratory design, the center plans to build out these emerging mixed-reality platforms right here in the Triad region.

Facebook Oculus Rift

oculas rift
oculus rift

CDI received a gift of several Oculus Rift virtual reality developer kits version 2 from Facebook’s research division. Oculus Rift will be used to support CDI research in virtual reality (VR). The VR platform enables the user to put on a headset, walk through a 3D virtual space and bend down or step up on tip-toe to look at an object from different angles. The device’s wide field of view, tracking systems, and 360-degree spatialized audio are integral to an immersive environment. The ability to experience data, explore spaces, or examine workflows in an immersive 3D space can be key to scientific, performance, and educational exploration.

“Facebook’s investment in CDI will help attract leading-edge experimentation in computational media, performance, and data visualization,” said Pamela L. Jennings, CDI director.

This new interface technology will give CDI collaborators new ways to explore innovative forms of experience, from gaming to performance to scientific inquiry. The Oculus Rift gift complements CDI’s previous award of the Microsoft HoloLens gear and development kit.

Microsoft’s HoloLens, New CONSTRUKTS Team Member

CDI’s recently announced gift of two HoloLens augmented reality developer kits from Microsoft academic research program will enable CDI researchers to develop a holographic design-build application for the CONSTRUKTS mixed-reality platform.

“The HoloLens is a technology, not yet released to the public, that looks like a fancy set of sunglasses,” says Jennings. It allows the user to see the actual environment while engaging in a virtual game or learning activity. “Imagine, robotic aliens appearing from holes virtually punched into the walls of your room shooting fireballs that you intercept with the click of your fingers.”


With support from a National Science Foundation (NSF) CyberManufacturing grant, also previously announced, the CDI will integrate the HoloLens into an application for designing virtual 3D models from physical blocks that can be enhanced with the device and output for a variety of digital manufacturing processes. CDI has added Senior Electrical Engineer Jeff Mueller to the CONSTRUKTS research team. Mueller joins David Castro (Software Developer and long-term collaborator from Bogota, Colombia) and Xinyu Huang (Professor of Computer Science at North Carolina Central University) as team collaborators. Mueller lives in the Triad area and is a member of the local chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) organization.

DataMax Foundation Supports CDI Maker Space

The DataMax Foundation has awarded a $44,100 grant to the Center for Design Innovation (CDI) to support the development of the center’s maker space. The gift will be used to replace and upgrade computers and key software applications used by CDI’s Cultivating Future Innovators (CFI) program. Through its CFI program, the center will welcome lifelong learners into its new space to explore creative ideas, learn technical skills, prototype new inventions and connect with thought leaders at the horizon of the discovery economy.

“The technology upgrade in our maker space will enhance our ability to inspire creative discovery in computer graphics, computer programming, and 3D design technologies,” said Pamela L. Jennings, CDI director.

This local support will help nurture the next generation that will design and develop new ways of interacting, engaging, learning, producing, and commercializing new technologies.

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