DMA Designs Virtual Reality Room

The Digital Media Arts is proud to announce the establishment of its new Virtual Reality Room. The room is being used by students for research and development.

“VR experience is a very individualized one in comparison to film, animation or even regular computer games. The user controls the point of view and is fully immersed in a virtual space while physically, with his or her body being in a physical space. It is like having an out-of-body experience and this experience requires a dedicated space,” said Przemyslaw Moskal, Ph.D.

Dr. Moskal decided that the time was right for VR in Digital Media Arts program and with help of the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, purchased a powerful computer and a VR set. However, his interest in VR has been long-standing.

“The first time I experienced Virtual Reality (VR) was in 1994 as an undergraduate student, and ever since, I’ve been fascinated with virtual, three-dimensional spaces. VR is a rather old idea that was realized for the first time by Dr. Ivan Southerland in the late 1960s, before the technology was even called “Virtual Reality”. Dr. Southerland developed what he called head-mounted display that had all the foundational functionality of the VR equipment we use now. Today, however, the processing power of computers and miniaturization of processors allows us to use rather small VR goggles that render amazing quality, immersive images,” said Moskal.

In the first year of the room, students have developed three virtual reality application prototypes. One of the projects was a 360 degrees photo project of the Christ the King Chapel developed for Dr. Jonathan Lawrence from the department of Religious Studies. The second project was done for a group of students from the psychology department for their research on perception of music and VR spaces. Third, was a three-dimensional simulation of the Old Fort Niagara.

The room is open most of the day with the help of the DMA lab assistant, Tyler Kron-Piatek. While the room is primarily used for research and development, it also can be enjoyed by others for some of the system’s entertainment and educational features. To set up an appointment to use, email Tyler Kron-Piatek at kronpiat@canisius.edu.