UMass Amherst Libraries Announce Winner of Digital Media Lab Virtual Reality Competition
The UMass Amherst Libraries Digital Media Lab (DML) is pleased to announce Edwood Brice ’19 as the winner of the Lenovo Mirage Solo Virtual Reality Competition. Celebrating the release of Avengers: Endgame, the competition invited students to submit a 30-second video describing how they envisioned virtual reality (VR) technology and applications that could enhance student life on campus. The DML awarded Brice with a Lenovo Mirage Solo VR headset.
Brice’s winning entry introduced VR “exergaming” (gamified exercising paired with virtual reality) as a way to provide a balanced source of physical activity for the UMass Amherst campus community. “With results that say that VR exergaming is objectively easier to conduct and more fun than traditional physical activity, it is apparent that more should be done to understand how VR technology can impact other people and their varying states of health,” he explains.
This is the second virtual reality pitch competition held by the DML. Last year, Parker Louison’s idea for a VR application to develop simulations of various career paths and areas of study won the grand prize: an HTC VIVE VR headset donated by Dr. Steve Acquah, Digital Media Lab Unit Coordinator and Associate Adjunct Professor of Chemistry.
“The VR competition reinforces our commitment to helping the university community learn more about and develop Apps for virtual and augmented reality, as part of a makerspace initiative. The DML is here to help you build Apps for teaching, research, or just for fun,” Acquah says.
As part of that commitment, the DML is also incorporating the Lenovo Mirage Solo VR headset, powered by Google’s Daydream VR platform, into its development support services to help students and staff create applications and immersive environments. The standalone headset uses 6 Degrees of Freedom (6DoF) tracking to allow a person to physically move around in a virtual environment, and is a crowd favorite at DML events.
Katy Greeley, a Business Development Manager for Connection, along with the Lenovo Team from Connection who made the competition’s prize available, says, “I love being able to see what these ingenious students come up with in their creative minds and are able to take an amazing, out of the box idea, design it, and bring it to life. It’s so cool that we are able to help equip them and empower them with this technology to take their futuristic ideas to the next level! Congrats, Edwood—very well deserved!”
Currently located on Floor 3 of the W. E. B. Du Bois Library, the Digital Media Lab is a campus makerspace specializing in providing support for all students, faculty, and staff on 3D printing, video and audio production, 3D modeling, and virtual and augmented reality application development.