Accessibilities and XR: A Semester of Research

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!

Studio X Collection Highlight

many books stacked on top of one another.

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!



The Six by Mark Alpert
Take Me with You by Tara Altebrando
Killobyte by Piers Anthony
Rim by Alexander Besher
The Dueling Machine by Ben Bova
Tea from an Empty Cup by Pat Cadigan
Ready Player One Series by Ernest Cline
Ready Player One
Ready Player Two
The Mortality Doctrine by James Dashner
The Eye of Minds
The Rule of Thoughts
The Game of Lives
Infoquake by David Edelman
The Wired Series by Donna Freitas
The Body Market
The Mind Virus
Warcross Series by Marie Lu
Wild Card
Upload by Mark McClelland
Erebos by Ursula Poznanski
Trading Reality by Michael Ridpath
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Reamde by Neal Stephenson
Halting State by Charles Stross
Daemon by Daniel Suarez
Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde
Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge
City of Golden Shadow by Tad Williams


Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality: Myths and Realities by Bruno Arnaldi & Pascal Guitton & Guillaume Moreau
Practical Augmented Reality: A Guide to the Technologies, Applications, and Human Factors for AR and VR by Steve Aukstakalnis
Experience on Demand: What Virtual Reality is, How it Works, and What it Can Do by Jeremy Bailenson
Breaking Glass: Spatial Fabulations and Other Tales of Representation in Virtual Reality Editors Yara Feghali & Johan Bettum
Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science Fiction by Scott Bukatman
Cyberpunk by Andrew M. Butler
The Pocket Essential Cyberpunk by Andrew M. Butler
Cyberpunk and Cyberculture: Science Fiction and the Work of William Gibson by Dani Cavallaro
Virtual Reality Headsets: A Theoretical and Pragmatic Approach by Philippe Fuchs
Building Interactive Worlds in 3D: Virtual Sets for Pre-Visualization for Games, Film, and the Web by Jean-Marc Gauthier
Emerging Technologies of Augmented Reality: Interfaces & Design by Michael Haller & Mark Billinghurst & Bruce Thomas
How We Became Posthuman Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics by Katherine Hayles
The VR Book: Human-Centered Design for Virtual Reality by Jason Jerald
The A-Zs of Worldbuilding: Building a Fictional World from Scratch by Rebekah Loper
A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Virtual Reality by Karen McMenemy & Stuart Ferguson
Virtual & Augmented Reality for Dummies by Paul Mealy
Learning Web-Based Virtual Reality: Build and Deploy Web-Based Virtual Reality Technology by Srushtika Neelakantam & Tanay Pant
Creating Augmented and Virtual Realities: Theory and Practice for Next-Generation Spatial Computing by Erin Pangilinan & Steve Lukas & Vasanth Mohan
Virtual Reality by Howard Rheingold
Future Presence: How Virtual Reality is Changing Human Connection, Intimacy, and the Limits of Ordinary Life by Peter Rubin
As If: Modern Enchantment and the Literary Prehistory of Virtual Reality by Michael T. Saler
Virtual Reality Development for the Google Daydream by Matthew Scarpino
Avatars at Work and Play: Collaboration and Interaction in Shared Virtual Environments by Ralph Schroeder & Ann-Sofie Axelsson
Virtual Sound: A Practical Guide to Audio, Dialogue, and Music in VR and AR by Stephan Schutze
Auralization: Fundamentals of Acoustics, Modeling, Simulation, Algorithms, and Acoustic Virtual Reality by Michale Vorländer
Ambisonics: A Practical 3D Audio Theory for Recording, Studio Production, Sound Reinforcement, and Virtual Reality by Franz Zotter & Matthias Frank


Assassin’s Creed (movie, 2016, PG-13)
The Cell (movie, 2000, R)
Gamer (movie, 2009, R)
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (movie, 2017, PG-13)
Jumanji: The Next Level (movie, 2019, PG-13)
The Matrix (movie, 1999, R)
Ready Player One (movie, 2018, PG-13)
Total Recall (movie, 2000, PG-13)
Westworld (TV series, 2016, TV-MA)
Season Two
Season Three

Immersive Technologies Resource Library

XR Equipment

Special thanks to Pauline Schwartzman, Allegra Tennis, and Kristen Totleben for their collaboration on this collection!

The Humanities & XR: A Semester of Research

book with features that have come to life.

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.

Further, humanists have already been leveraging these tools and methods in their research. For example, at the UR, Elizabeth Colantoni, Associate Professor of Classics, uses virtual reconstructions to visualize Roman topography. Mike Jarvis, Associate Professor of History, also uses immersive technologies for archaeology research to not only understand the past but to virtually archive historical sites for the future.

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!

Presentation Slides

Dream University Challenge 2021

Promotional graphic for the Dream University Challenge. There is an illustration of a person reclining on a half moon and looking into the sky at the top. The person is wearing headphones, and there is a sketch of Rush Rhees Library in the background. On the bottom are the Studio X, River Campus Libraries, and iZone wordmarks. Underneath the illustration is the text, "Dream University Challenge. Submit your space for a chance to win a prize."
Promotional graphic for the Dream University Challenge. There is an illustration of a person reclining on a half moon and looking into the sky at the top. The person is wearing headphones, and there is a sketch of Rush Rhees Library in the background. On the bottom are the Studio X, River Campus Libraries, and iZone wordmarks. Underneath the illustration is the text, "Dream University Challenge. Submit your space for a chance to win a prize."

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.

The Submissions

Dream Rush Rhees
Siladitya Khan, Carolina Lion He, Sydney Santiago, Debamitra Chakraborty
UR Haven
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.

New to Mozilla Hubs? Check out this tutorial.

The Winners!

The public submitted over 200 votes and awarded the following:

Most Creative Concept

UR Haven

Most Desirable Campus Space

Tie! UR Haven & Dream Rush Rhees

Most Out of the Box

UR Haven

Most Likely to Facilitate Connections

Dream Rush Rhees

The judges awarded Best Overall Winner to…

UR Haven!

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

Organizing Committee:

  • Mike Arinarkin, Design Thinking Fellow (iZone)
  • Denis Cengriz, Online Instruction Lead, Karp Library Fellow (iZone)
  • Nadine Eldallal, Social Media Fellow (iZone)
  • Muhammed El-Sayed, Immersive Technologies Developer, Karp Library Fellow (Studio X)
  • Sebastian Jakymiw, Immersive Technologies Developer, Karp Library Fellow (Studio X)
  • Meaghan Moody, Immersive Technologies Librarian
  • Nefle Nesli Oruç, Public Programs Coordinator, Karp Library Fellow (Studio X)
  • Robert Petrosyan, Online Experience Designer, Karp Library Fellow (iZone)
  • Emily Sherwood, Director of Digital Scholarship

Want to learn more about this event? Visit the Dream University Challenge page for full details, including our recorded design thinking and technical workshops!

Studio X User Needs Findings 2020

Mostly blank Scrabble tiles with a few that spell out Assess.

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.

View the detailed findings:

Faculty Interviews

Student Survey

AR/VR Graduate Students

Check Out the Studio X App!

Examples of the various screens for the Studio X app.
screenshots of the Studio X user interface.  Shows the home screen, the select an experience (AR or VR) screen, an instruction screen, and a screen that demos an augmented reality experience of a fox dancing in the Eastman Quad.
Studio X Screenshots

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!

Available on the Google Play Store and the App Store.

VR / 360 Features

  • Google Cardboard-enabled streaming 360 video of curated VR experiences developed at UR (requires WiFi or data connection).

AR Features

  • Interact with different UR-inspired 3D models.
  • Capture images or video and share it via #URXR.

Subscribe to push notifications for news on updated models and 360 / VR experiences!

Hunt-Lenox Globe in 3D

zoomed in etching of a ship with a person at the front

This post was originally published on the Digital Scholarship Lab’s website.

Hunt-Lenox Globe
A photo of the Hunt-Lenox globe.

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.

The Lazarus Project has recently imaged the Globus Jagellonicus from the Jagiellonian University Museum in Krakow, of which the DSL has also produced a 3D model, and is planning to image the Erdapfel from the Germanic Museum in Nuremberg. Ultimately this will result in 3D representations of all three of the world’s oldest known terrestrial globes.

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.

A rendering of the Hunt-Lenox globe in the DSL's 3D viewer.
A rendering of the Hunt-Lenox globe in the DSL’s 3D viewer.

Features of the 3D Viewer

Selections of the Hunt-Lenox Globe in the DSL’s 3D Viewer

Detailed view of the globe highlighting text that reads, "Here are dragons."
“hic sunt dracones” (here are dragons)

Dynamic lighting tools to highlight areas on the object

Tools of 3D reviewer that highlights an etched fish

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.

Applying the 3D viewer's lighting tools to highlight details on the globe