FedEx Institute of Technology Will Host Open House for Mid-South's First VR Lab

November 30, 2016 - The FedEx Institute of Technology at the University of Memphis, in partnership with the Institute for Intelligent Systems, Memphis Technology Foundation and Memphis Game Developers, is leading the region in developing cutting-edge resources in both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. As such, the FedEx Institute has established its first VR (Virtual Reality) lab, and will serve as the first in the Mid-South. The lab, located on the fourth floor of the FedEx Institute, will provide students, researchers and members of the Memphis technology community an opportunity to experience and develop in Virtual Reality spaces.

A grand opening with demonstrations will be held Thursday, Dec. 8, at 5 p.m. in the FedEx Institute of Technology, room 440. The event is free; RSVP at cbehles@memphis.edu.

Virtual Reality technology has its roots in the gaming community, with many of the earliest commercial applications providing immersive experiences for gamers. With an increased interest in programming skills development in Memphis over the last decade, the natural leap to developing VR was only a matter of time. Ernest McCracken, president of the Memphis Game Developer, said, "This facility, being the first of its kind in Memphis, will have a diverse collection of VR/AR technologies including Room Scale VR, 360 video, Mixed Reality and Motion Capture. With this technology, we can address a number of problem spaces in game development, media and art, interactive training and medical visualization, just to name a few. This is also the first collaboration between academia and the greater Memphis IT community of technology enthusiasts and makers."

As Virtual Reality technology has been expanded with Mixed Reality and Augmented reality, the opportunities for application have continued to grow. Industries which once relied on traditional training and personal development tools are now seeing the application of this technology as scalable training solutions. "There is a growing need of VR, AR and MR in the training/learning industry," said Dr. Xiangen Hu, professor of Psychology and Electrical and Computer Engineering and Institute for Intelligent Systems Fellow. "The VR Lab will provide an excellent venue to help better prepare our students for this exciting emerging career path and to develop research in applied technologies."

The space will provide students with first hand opportunities to experience VR technology and to learn how this ever-improving resource will impact future jobs and training opportunities across industries. Access to the space will be coordinated through the FedEx Institute of Technology and will be designed to help bring collaboration in this emerging technology to Memphis.

The lab will contribute to the overall mission of the FedEx Institute of Technology in leading Memphis in the development of emerging technology innovations and research opportunities.

Mary Ann Dawson