Karp Library Fellow, Ayiana Crabtree ’22 joined the Studio X team in February 2021 as our inaugural XR Research Fellow. For her final research project, we asked Ayiana to focus on XR and accessibility. Technology in general creates many barriers for disabled users. As XR technologies are rapidly growing in popularity, they exacerbate these challenges. When creating an XR product, whether that be a VR (virtual reality) headset or an AR (augmented reality) game, etc., people tend to think more about their product’s aesthetic or its usability for the average user. What people fail to remember is that not every user will be “the average user.” The world is a diverse place, with people of all ages, genders, races, and abilities, and when creating XR, it is important to keep in mind this diversity. XR and accessibility is itself a new area that is a moving target.
The goal of this topic of research was to ensure that Studio X would be prepared to accommodate any person that walks into the space to try out technologies. While this is a long-term goal, the research done this semester is a good first step to making Studio X accessibility-friendly.
In order to make Studio X more accessible for the future, Ayiana conducted research to find ways in which accessibility is already being incorporated with immersive technologies. This involved putting together a resource guide, meeting with the director of the Office of Disability Resources on campus, and running a student survey through the Office of Disability Resources mailing list. View her findings and more in the semester of research recap presentation below!
Change Your Reality: XR Readings, Resources, and More!
These books, DVDs, and equipment are part of the River Campus Libraries’ collections and are available to all UR students, staff, and faculty members. Visit the physical exhibits in Rush Rhees Library near the Lam Square Q&i desk as well as on the first floor of Carlson Library just outside of Studio X!
Karp Library Fellow, Ayiana Crabtree ’22 joined the Studio X team in February 2021 as our inaugural XR Research Fellow. For her first research project, we asked Ayiana to focus on XR and the humanities. Immersive technologies share a natural connection with STEM fields, and the planned Studio X space will also be located on the first floor of Carlson Science & Engineering Library. However, Studio X supports all faculty and students on campus and fosters an interdisciplinary community of practice. Immersive technologies require a diverse range of expertise and perspectives, and the humanities and humanistic social sciences bring a much-needed critical eye to this emerging field.
In order to broaden Studio X’s reach to other humanities and humanistic social science faculty and students, Ayiana conducted research to find ways these disciplines can benefit from and engage with immersive technologies. This ranged from a blog post describing use cases, a focus group with RCL Learning Initiatives Librarians, and a student survey. View these findings and more in her semester-recap presentation below!
This past summer, due to COVID-19 distancing restrictions, a UR student inquired about virtual meeting spaces to foster community in lieu of our physical library spaces. We all miss the pre-pandemic opportunities to meet up and chat. The serendipitous catch-up on campus after class or in between meetings isn’t really possible these days and poses a considerable problem for community building.
This student’s inquiry inspired iZone and Studio X team members, including the Karp Library Fellows, to develop the Dream University Challenge, in which participants imagined, designed, and built virtual university spaces that provided these opportunities to connect. During the 2021 winter break, iZone and Studio X staff led student participants through design thinking and technical workshops. They then worked in teams using Mozilla Hubs, a free and open-source virtual reality platform, to create their own unique campus spaces.
Studio X and iZone staff members served as mentors during office hours and provided both conceptual and technical feedback throughout the week-long building phase. Two teams of four submitted links to their final projects and abstracts that described their concept and acknowledged sources.
Miguel Yakouma, Koshala Mathuranayagam, Joey Chan, & Sophea Urbi Biswas
Explore in VR
Share a virtual room with friends in your browser! Both submissions embody UR pride, consider facilitating connections thoughtfully, and inspire new ideas about space and community. Click on the buttons below to visit these spaces.
The public submitted over 200 votes and awarded the following:
Most Creative Concept
Most Desirable Campus Space
Tie! UR Haven & Dream Rush Rhees
Most Out of the Box
Most Likely to Facilitate Connections
Dream Rush Rhees
The judges awarded Best Overall Winner to…
We would like to thank our amazing judges:
Wendi Heinzelman, Dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Julia Maddox, Director of the Barbara J. Burger iZone, River Campus Libraries
Nefle Nesli Oruç ’22, Public Programs Coordinator, Karp Library Fellow
Joe Testani, Assistant Dean & Executive Director of the Greene Center for Career Education & Connections
The UR Haven team will receive UR-branded Google Cardboards and a cash prize of $100 for each team member.
At the celebration event, the winners were announced, and students discussed their experiences during the challenge and what they learned. Students expressed enthusiasm for the interdisciplinary collaboration and getting to know others outside of their usual friend groups. They also felt that, regardless of their technical level, they all had something to contribute. One international student appreciated the opportunity to stay connected to campus and the community. Another student noted that the structure of the challenge helped her to maintain a learning mindset during the long break. Others described learning how to consider user needs and how to collaborate in teams:
The challenge taught me that teamwork is all about clear communication, understanding how to think from other people’s perspectives, and respecting each other’s ideas and viewpoints.
Thank you so much to everyone who participated! We are grateful for the support from the River Campus Libraries and the Hajim School of Engineering.
Thank you especially to those who made this event so successful!
Mary Ann Mavrinac, Vice Provost and Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of the University of Rochester Libraries
Matt Cook, Senior Communications Officer, RCL
Claudia Pietrzak, Student Programming & Social Media Manager, RCL
Sarah Gerin, iZone Community Manager, RCL
Zoe Wisbey, iZone Program Initiatives Manager, RCL
Over the course the spring and fall semesters of 2020, Studio X staff conducted interviews, surveys, and focus groups to understand the needs of UR faculty and student stakeholders across disciplines. The findings of which were used to inform Studio X’s fall pilot programming as well as future services for the planned space slated to open in fall of 2021.
In preparation for the launch of Studio X, try out our new app where you can fly around the Eastman Quad in a virtual reality (VR) experience, select the augmented reality (AR) experience of engaging with a digital model of a groundboi or quadfox, and learn about University history through curated content from University Archives, RBSCP. Now featuring dynamically updated content!
The Digital Scholarship Lab collaborated with the Lazarus Project to produce a 3D model of the New York Public Library’s Hunt-Lenox Globe, which dates from ca. 1510. Considering the size of the globe–it is only 5 inches in diameter–the 3D model not only facilitates access to the historic object but it also allows viewers to explore details of the globe otherwise hidden by its size and the bronze armillary sphere that contains it.
Expanding capacity for 3D representations of cultural heritage objects
As a means of providing access to these artifacts, the DSL is expanding upon the 3D viewer originally built for the Ward Project to add features such as VR capability and annotations. The goal is to produce a presentation platform designed for 3D representations of cultural heritage objects that allows for virtual “guided exhibits” of the objects as well as independent exploration. The expanding toolset is designed to provide domain experts with the ability to uncover surface information about an object and disseminate their findings to a wider audience.
Features of the 3D Viewer
Selections of the Hunt-Lenox Globe in the DSL’s 3D Viewer
Dynamic lighting tools to highlight areas on the object
Analyzing tools help viewers explore textures. Can you find the shipwreck?
Lighting options on the 3D viewer reveal details not readily apparent on the original.