OU Board of Trustees Visit GRID Lab

By Haley Kolb:

The Ohio University Board of Trustees visited the GRID Lab for a tour and demonstrations of new technology. Since receiving Ohio University Innovation Strategy funding for the Immersive Media Initiative, the GRID Lab has had a major revamp with the addition of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment.

At the start of the tour, the Trustees were first greeted by GRID Lab Director, John Bowditch, who introduced the staff that would be showing them around. Most staff members were in attendance and ready to answer any and all questions. Next, the trustees were escorted to two different rooms; the motion room and the production center.

In the motion room, a tour of the motion capture studio showcased a motion capture suit and the green room itself, where virtual reality games were available for playing. The trustees were shy to start, but eventually immersed themselves in the virtual world as they played Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine, Google TiltBrush, and Funhouse. Student team member, Austin Drozin, operated the program via desktop while another student team member, Liv Teleha, helped trustee members into the Vive headset.

Over in the production center, computers were open for 360 video viewing. A wide variety of videos, including student-made projects, were available. President McDavis watched intently as he clicked around the “Circle of Life” Lion King Broadway performance. In the same room, student team members Iggy Cossman and Kyle Arnott informed the trustees about the Lab’s variety of camera equipment and their functions.

When trustee member Janelle Simmons asked what virtual reality will be used for in the real world, John Bowditch explained, “There are a lot of practical uses for VR besides gaming. We are actually working right now on a tracheotomy surgery application that will allow students to practice on a virtual patient that reacts to what they’re doing.” Along with the surgery simulation, GRID Lab employees have other medical and educational projects under way, one being a virtual blood draw therapy simulator.

Trustees could also visit the audio suite or the R&D room. In the R&D room, graduate student Abbie Doyle was playing her political 360 video series, in which she attended rallies and speeches of presidential candidates. Student staffer, Taylor Rohrig, was showing the trustees her animations through a virtual reality headset. Another student staffer, Andrea Swart, was demonstrating augmented reality with the Microsoft Hololens. With the Hololens, the user can see animated objects in real time in 3D space.

A visit from President McDavis and the Trustees is important for the GRID Lab because it allowed the team the opportunity to inform influential Ohio staff members about how the GRID Lab has applied the generous Ohio University Innovation Strategy funding. Also, it was a chance to demonstrate what pride and expertise the staff have gained while working with such innovative technology.