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Meta Grant May Fuel Cornell’s AR and VR Research

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have been mostly associated with gaming and immersive educational and entertainment-related use cases. But what if the technologies could also be put to use for research that leads to the betterment of humanity?

Some areas that can benefit from such research include cellular technology, facial recognition technology, construction and engineering, and telehealth. The scope of AR and VR across multiple applications including the ones stated above will be explored by researchers at Cornell with the help of a grant from Meta, the technology giant once known as Facebook, along with immersive technology company Spark AR. Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science’ computer teacher Abe Davis, and Harald Haraldsson from Cornell Tech’s XR Laboratory are the individuals participating in the research. The grant is over two years and $1.8 million will be gained from the two technology companies.

Whilst the XR Collaboratory will get a grant of $1.125 million the Cornell Bowers CIS will receive a sum upwards of 600 thousand dollars. Both the sums will be used for the purpose of teaching, conducting research and exploring undergraduate possibilities in AR across the two institutes.

Davis, who is a relatively new addition to the Cornell teaching staff, joined in 2020 after a postdoctoral period at Cornell Tech. He emphasised that new faculty members like himself are still in the phase of exploring how to gain the means for conducting the research they intend to do. Speaking about the grant by Meta and Cornell AR, he said that it would help to fuel his research efforts. In a way, the grant is giving him the opportunity to embark on extensive research. He expressed excitement about this latest development, stating that he might need to rely on more people for carrying forward the research work.

According to Haraldsson, the new funding will help researchers at Cornell introduce new activities at its NYC location. He also emphasised that the team will be able to work on exploring immersive technologies i.e. mixed, augmented and virtual reality, collectively known as XR. Haraldsson said that research has been ongoing for several years in this domain.

Head of AR Glasses at Meta Reality Labs, Sue Young, spoke about the grant. She said that the company is working on building a future that relies on advanced AR solutions. According to her, technology will transform interpersonal interactions and people’s interactions with their environments. Young stated that Meta supporting projects such as that of Cornell is a step in the direction of advancing XR technology by helping those doing the research and building solutions.

Davis is aiming to diversify the range of augmented reality and virtual reality solutions on th Ithaca location of Cornell, in a similar vein to what is being done by Haraldsson at Cornell Tech.

Some XRC projects encompass remote collaboration for a number of domains. These include healthcare application collaborations, VR locomotion techniques, AR headset surface reflectance and VR novel input techniques.

Further developments are expected from Cornell in the near future in terms of XR research and development.

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