Student uses Virtual reality headset in the new Mixed Reality LabThe new ATLAS Mixed Reality Lab will take you just about anywhere—just imagine, create and go!

Equipped with HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Microsoft’s HoloLens, high quality headphones, and PCs with top-of-line graphics cards, you can simulate some pretty breathtaking experiences.

Rish Raghavendran was trying out some of the equipment in the lab when we visited to take photographs. A student in Assistant Professor Dan Szafir’s Introduction to Virtual Reality class, Raghavendran’s plan is to build a virtual drum set to teach people how to play the drums without a drum set. Austin Holler, another student in Szafir’s class, is working with his group to create a virtual reality environment that involves solving puzzles by exploring different dimensions “defying gravity and such.” A playground for imaginative and thought-provoking work, the lab seeks to highlight all aspects of the mixed reality medium.

Opened in October, the lab isn’t just for students taking VR classes. ATLAS students or, with the appropriate permissions, any students in the university can use the facility to create 2D and 3D animations, create video games, process and visualize big data, and more.

“Virtual reality technology has made a quantum leap in the last couple of years. We’re excited to create a space where students can play and create in this expanding new medium,” says ATLAS Director Mark Gross.

What’s next? Instructor Ian Hales, who has been closely involved in the creation of the lab, is hoping to increase the number of different VR platforms in the lab and to use other spaces in conjunction with the lab. Who knows, maybe sometime next year, ATLAS will be moving towards a Star Trek-like Holodeck!