“We are looking for clever ideas that will bring digital worlds from the arts, humanities, sciences, and medicine into our physical world and enhance discovery and learning in our community,” said Jeffrey Duerk, UM Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Founded by UM alumnus Rony Abovitz, Magic Leap’s mixed reality technology allows users to blend digital content with their own physical environment. Last fall (2018), Magic Leap and UM entered into a collaboration where the University would serve as a pilot location for the company to experiment with its first-generation headsets, called “Magic Leap One”.
As part of the collaboration, each college was given some of the headsets for faculty and students to use with the goal that the UM community would develop Magic Leap applications. So far, several ideas have been developed, but the Provost hopes this latest round of grants will generate more. “Faculty have responded enthusiastically to the information sessions,” said Jean-Pierre Bardet, Vice Provost for Strategic Projects and Dean of the College of Engineering. “That will undoubtedly lead to great successes.”
UM Information Technology’s Director of Innovation, Max Cacchione, leads the XR Garage on the fifth floor of the McArthur Engineering Building, which is one of the places faculty, staff and students can experience Magic Leap’s technology, in addition to the Magic Leap Lab on the third floor of the Otto G. Richter Library. Cacchione and his team of seven student programmers have been helping faculty and students develop their own ideas for how to integrate mixed reality. “We hope to see applications for prototypes that can be later leveraged for grant applications,” Cacchione said. “These are prototypes that would be part of scientific publications for future grants.”