WKU XR Lab Students Honored at Mid-South ACM Conference – WKU News | Team Cansler

WKU XR Lab students received awards for their research presentations Friday (Nov. 11) at the Mid-South ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) Conference in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

An interdisciplinary team of 15 students representing Ogden College of Science and Engineering, Potter College of Arts & Letters and Gatton Academy attended the conference. The five supporting faculty from the XR Lab in attendance were Professors Greg Arbuckle and Michael Galloway from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Professors Kristina Arnold, Mark Simpson and Truth Tran from the Department of Art & Design.

Each XR Lab student who presented received awards for their research, with student teams taking first place in bachelor thesis presentations and first, second and third place in poster presentations.

First place for a bachelor thesis was awarded to the “Eclipse Totality Megamovie Application” Research presented by Joey Jackson, Travis Pedenand Lance Warfelwith development of application prototypes Madison Whittle. This project aims to test the limits of citizen science, or the practice of public participation and collaboration in scientific research, to advance scientific knowledge by involving over a million members of the public in collecting data on the total solar eclipse of December 8 April 2024, which stretches from Texas to Maine. This project seeks to extend a similar 2017 project involving 1,000 citizen scientists to a much larger scale by developing an incentive-driven, user-friendly application for smartphones that uses camera technology to capture a series of photos and videos solar eclipse.

First place for posters went to the team from Nicholas Clayton, Austin Costello, Will Herring, Cole Johnson, Zachary Mers, Alyssa Putman, Michael Putmanand Emma Young for your project “UAV Cave Mapping and VR Experience.” This team has been working to build and use an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) drone to map the interior of caves and use the data to “recreate” those caves in virtual reality, eliminating the need to enter them physically. The expected outcome of the project is the creation of a virtual environment that accurately represents the geographic data collected by the drone using a LIDAR sensor, overlaid with more detailed texture and imagery information. This project hopes to develop applications for LIDAR data and the use of Unity in creating virtual reality experiences to enable educational and research projects such as caving.

The Gatton Academy student team from Ivy Bowers, Jonathon Reillyand Carolina Wheeler Second place in poster presentations with their project to create a “Virtual reality campus tour with 3D modeling and scanning.” Her project investigates the use of 3D modeling and scanning in the construction of enhanced lifelike virtual reality tour experiences. While many virtual reality tours use 360-degree camera images due to their relative simplicity, these tours do not allow the user to interact with and freely explore the environment, nor do they allow for the reconstruction of past locations where images no longer exist . This VR project, built with the Unity game engine, creates a realistic and interactive virtual tour of some of Western Kentucky University’s oldest buildings, both in their current state and at the time of their construction. This work serves as a proof-of-concept for larger projects involving realistic interactive virtual reality environments, particularly those involving the reconstruction of places of the past, an important development given its potential for use in educational institutions and in community recognition of the past Events.

Madison Whittle presented the third-placed poster for their research “Using innovative technology to bring specialized museum exhibits and engineered optimism to rural communities in south-central Kentucky.” Her team seeks to address the relative lack of access to museum experiences for South Central Kentucky residents by using the WKU Extended Reality Lab to bring historical and cultural experiences into SoKY, introducing innovative technology to rural communities, and tech optimism to promote. Whittle and her team developed an interactive virtual museum experience targeting SoKY-specific culture and history, with the project’s main impact serving to make education, cultural experiences and innovative technology processes more accessible in rural communities. Featured exhibits include an interactive blues theater experience through the Jack Dappa Blues Foundation; a virtual comparison between our modern campus and the Civil War fort that once stood there; and a reflective listening experience celebrating a local African-American community and the resulting diaspora following WKU’s expansion in the 1960s.

For more information about the lab and its projects, visit its website, also developed by graduate student Madison Whittle, at www.wkuxr.com.

Contact: Kristina Arnold, (270) 745-6566

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