Illinois Immersive Computing Center Proposal Receives Investment for Growth Funding | Computing

Three proposed projects tied to the Grainger College of Engineering have been selected to receive major funding under the Investing for Growth program, and that includes a collaborative proposal led by Illinois computer science professor Sarita Adve , to create the Illinois Center for Immersive Computing.

Team members who worked together on the proposal to form an Illinois Immersive Computing Center included (clockwise from top left) Sarita Adve, Romit Roy Choudhury, Klara Nahrstedt and Eric Shaffer.

The future of an immersive computing age, according to the project proposal, would bring “the ability to digitize (virtualize) the physical world around us (as perceived by all of our senses such as visual, audio, haptic and olfactory), augment this physical world with digitally constructed (virtual) experiences and content, and seamlessly interact with a mixed reality comprising a continuum of combinations of physical and virtual experiences, all in real time, with comfortable, wireless devices for the end user.”

Effectively pursuing these possibilities and beginning to shape the future of immersive computing requires a well-orchestrated team. The team behind the proposal includes Adve and:

  • Klara Nahrstedt, Grainger Chair of Excellence in Engineering, whose expertise lies in distributed systems and reliable multimedia networks.
  • Eric Shaffer, professor of computer science, who studies visualization, mixed reality, scientific computing and education.
  • Romit Roy Choudhury, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and CS Affiliate Faculty, whose research interests include wireless networking, mobile sensing, and applied signal processing.

Additionally, Adve said, support came from Rachel Switzky, director of the Siebel Center for Design, and Suresh Sethi, professor and chair of industrial design.

The Investment for Growth program has awarded $4 million to help strengthen the team and ensure the group has the people, technology and equipment needed to pursue its interests.

“Although the term immersive computing derives from the new way of interacting with computers, we use it largely as an umbrella term. It refers to the entire application, hardware and software ecosystem that will result from the maturation of technologies such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality (AR/VR/MR), collectively referred to as extended reality (XR), the metaverse , digital twins, space computing, wearable computing, etc. “said Adve. “Unlocking the full potential of immersive computing and establishing global leadership requires bringing together a diversity of disciplines and activities. The center aims to bring together work on immersive technologies, human factors, applications, policy, education and workforce development, launching new interdisciplinary initiatives in research, education and workforce development, and the development and deployment of innovative infrastructure.

Since inception of the Investment for Growth program in 2018, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has invested more than $78 million in seed funding for projects that address areas of high and emerging student demand, according to the Chancellor Robert J. Jones.

“We are proud to provide central support to encourage colleges to dream big, think differently and take risks,” Jones said.

The Illinois Center for Immersive Computing would help make Illinois the “world leader” in research and workforce development for immersive technologies.

“With our strong culture of interdisciplinary research, our strong heritage of virtual reality (VR), our strong but dispersed programs, and the interest of industry on campus, now is the time to consolidate these efforts and propel us towards a leadership position,” Adve wrote in the draft. proposal.

The Illinois Center for Immersive Computing is one of 10 projects to receive $14.2 million over the next three years under the Investment for Growth program.

“This is the first group of projects funded since the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are excited to resume investment in proposals and ideas that promise to improve the visibility and impact of our institution,” said Jones.

These concepts join many projects that started with the investment program for growth. These projects include intercollegiate programs such as CS+X and the growth of online programs such as iMBA and iMSA.

The Illinois Provost’s Office also provided full details on the projects funded this year.

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