Aurum VR: An Alchemy Laboratory

A Collaboration between Rossell Hope Robbins Library and Mary Ann Mavrinac Studio X

Travel back to medieval times and learn how to turn base metals into gold and unlock the power of the philosopher’s stone. Featuring authentic 17th-century texts from the Robbins Library’s collection—brought to life with stunning visuals and realistic simulations—Aurum (Latin for gold) will make you feel like a true alchemist as you mix potions and discover the secrets of this ancient craft.


History of Alchemy

Alchemy has existed across various cultures and regions throughout history. Its goal is to understand the science of natural substances, their changes, and their transformations. While you might be picturing someone turning base metals into gold or creating some kind of healing potion, many alchemical texts are linked to spiritual and philosophical enlightenment.

Western alchemy originated with a close relationship between mysticism and metallurgy in ancient Egypt around 4,000 years ago. Everything we know of Egyptian alchemy is in the writings of ancient Greek philosophers—most of whose writings only survived in Islamic translations.

In China, alchemy was primarily connected to medicine. Alchemy was known as waidan (external alchemy) and neidan (internal alchemy). Waidan was focused on creating elixirs of immortality and using minerals and metals to treat diseases, while neidan was used for spiritual transformation and the cultivation of the inner self.

In India, alchemy was known as rasayāna, which literally means “the path of the juice” or “the path of essence.” Rasayāna was associated with a system of medicine that used mercury as a core element of its operations, compounds, and medicines. Rasayāna aimed to heal people who were too sick to recover and to increase people’s life spans.

In the Islamic world alchemy (ilm al-kimiya) flourished during the Islamic Golden Age. Heavily influenced by Greek and Egyptian alchemy (most of what we know of earlier traditions is through Islamic translations and commentaries), Islamic alchemists were responsible for major discoveries that furthered alchemy and other sciences, including hydrochloric, sulfuric, and nitric acids, potash, soda, and the technique of distillation. They also made significant advancements in the fields of chemistry, pharmacology, and metallurgy.

The alchemy that developed in Europe during the Middle Ages was heavily indebted to the Islamic tradition, through which European alchemists encountered the works of ancient Greek and Egyptian alchemy. Alchemy was deeply tied to religion and philosophy, and many influential alchemists were also priests, monks, or friars. By the end of the Middle Ages, however, alchemy was more associated with occult practices. In the 16th and 17th centuries, alchemy was studied alongside magic, medicine, and what we now think of as modern science, particularly chemistry. Many scientists such as Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, and Tycho Brahe were also alchemists. While the pursuit of transmutation and the creation of an elixir of life were eventually abandoned, alchemy played a significant role in the development of modern science.

Robbins Library Manuscript

This manuscript is a personal collection of alchemical texts from 17th-century Italy, containing more than a dozen recipes, many of which involve the creation of the philosopher’s stone.

Our research team has transcribed and translated the texts from the manuscript, which were originally written in both Latin and Italian. These texts include some of the most popular alchemical treatises from the late Middle Ages and early modern periods.

While the original owner of the manuscript remains unknown, it’s highly likely that the owner was an alchemist who gathered materials from their own experiments and their colleagues.

Through Aurum VR, you can step into the shoes of an alchemist and explore the recipes found in the alchemical miscellany manuscript, gradually unraveling the secrets of the ancient craft.


Management Team

Modeling Team

Coding Team

Story Team

Past Contributors


We aim to expand awareness of and access to our library’s diverse collections through transformative and innovative methods.


  • Reimagine our library’s collections. Imagine if you were able to interact with a text in which you could tap on a word to define it, engage with complex visualizations to illustrate concepts, recreate the recipes from a first-person perspective.
  • De-westernize the perception of alchemy and showcase its rich global history and relevance to a contemporary audience.
  • Transform teaching and learning. Instead of reading about alchemy and imagining the laboratories, tools, recipes, and experiments, what if you could carry out the experiments yourself within a medieval laboratory setting? How would mixing the ingredients and handling the tools impact your understanding of this history?
  • Embrace interdisciplinary collaboration. This project brings together history, science, art, and technology to create something remarkable.
  • Foster hands-on, skill-based, project-based learning opportunities. Students learn XR software and hardware, collaborate in teams, conduct research in a meaningful way.


  • We are committed to showcasing the diverse and global history of alchemical practices and promoting a more inclusive and expansive view of history.
  • We strive to make our VR alchemist laboratory experience accessible to everyone, regardless of background or ability, and are dedicated to creating a comfortable and enriching environment for all.
  • We seek to engage participants in an immersive and interactive learning experience, drawing on the rich resources of the Robbins Library.
  • We aim to leverage cutting-edge technology and modern design practices to bring the ancient art of alchemy to life in a new and exciting way.
  • We value the contributions of multiple stakeholders, including the Robbins Library and user feedback, to create a rich and authentic experience.
  • The project is dedicated to presenting a nuanced and global representation of alchemy, drawing on historical research and expert knowledge to ensure that the experience is based in diverse historical practices while taking creative and magical liberties to enrich storytelling.

About the project


You are Kiana, a career alchemist in a small town. By day, you run a sufficiently successful business fulfilling the townsfolk’s more mundane orders—dyes and rat poisons—but you can’t help wondering if, with enough practice, you might be able to uncover the secret of the famed philosopher’s stone in the score of alchemical texts your father left to you.


  • Explore 2 floors of the alchemist’s tower and the equipment available in your journey to master the craft.
  • Follow the step-by-step recipe to create a purple dye potion.
  • Experiment with heating and mixing potions available in your lab.

access features

  • A locomotion technique which provides users with instantaneous transport from one location to another without having to move physically
  • Reduces the risk of inducing motion sickness, a common issue for VR applications
  • Provides an additional layer of comfort for players who may feel disoriented or overwhelmed in large virtual spaces
  • Creates navigation options for wheelchair users or those who may have difficulty with precise or rapid movements, such as those with fine motor skill impairments
  • Allows users to change their viewpoint without physically turning their body. This can be helpful for wheelchair users, those with mobility aids, or those who may have difficulty with sustained physical movements, such as chronic pain or fatigue
  • Reduces the risk of motion sickness for users who experience discomfort when turning in VR
  • Allows users to adjust the environment to their height, including seated modes
  • Allows users to teleport an object to their location to “grab” it. This can be helpful for users who may have difficulty with fine motor control or precise movements
  • Reduces the risk of motion sickness or discomfort some users experience when using traditional grab methods in VR games
  • Provides users with an easy way to adjust game settings and access through features such as the ability to adjust the height, choosing skin color, and choosing between smooth and snap turns at any point of the game

external resources used

HurricaneVR – Physics-based interaction toolkit package for Unity development


Fall 2021
  • Collaborative work between Studio X and the Robbins Library to create a shared vision for the project
  • Digitization of the Alchemical miscellany manuscript by Lisa Wright in the Digital Scholarship Digitization Lab
  • Research conducted on alchemical practices and notable alchemical achievements
  • Contextual documentation and project management systems and tools established
  • World building activities, such as a Dungeon and Dragons night
Spring 2022
  • Training on project tools (e.g., Unity and Blender)
  • Readings and discussion on a variety of topics, including VR and accessibility, nonwestern histories of alchemy, gaming and gender, etc.
  • World building activities, such as sketching, creative writing, and discussion
  • 3D models with materials created by each student of alchemical equipment in Blender and imported into Unity
  • Scene creation in Unity and locomotion and grabbables implemented
  • Implementation of access features and settings menu in Unity
Fall 2022
Demo of Aurum VR for Frameless 2022
Spring 2023
  • Sub-team leads established
  • Animation of selected models
  • Liquid simulation implementation
  • Full step-by-step recipe implementation
  • 3D modeling and texturing for alchemical ingredients
  • Translation of 5 recipes from Robbins Library manuscripts
  • Design and implementation of user interface and welcome screen in Unity
  • Research and planning on VR accessibility for neurodivergent users


The current project offers an immersive and engaging introduction to the fascinating world of alchemy. However, we have ambitious plans to expand and enhance the experience even further in the coming semesters.

  • Integrate nine more alchemical recipes, including the creation of gold, pearls, and the elusive philosopher’s stone. These additions will provide users with an even more comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of alchemy and allow them to experiment with a wider range of materials and techniques.
  • Expand the overarching story of the game and weaving in more historical context.
  • Add textured 3D models of recipe ingredients, equipment, and space decorum, making the experience even more immersive and engaging for users.
  • Conduct user testing, including collaborating with the Office of Disabilities to ensure accessibility for all users.

Through these enhancements, we aim to create a comprehensive and inclusive experience. We are excited to embark on the next phase of Aurum VR and look forward to sharing our progress with you.

Final Notes

We will provide updates as we continue to expand and refine our immersive experience, but don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any feedback or suggestions! If you’re eager to try the experience for yourself, come visit us at Studio X on the first floor of Carlson Library, where our team will be happy to guide you through the alchemical adventure of a lifetime.

Experiencing Civic Life: Virtual Mt. Hope Cemetery

logo for Mt. Hope cemetery.

In collaboration with The Friends of Mt. Hope Cemetery, Studio X, and the Humanities Center, Experiencing Civic Life students captured 360 degree photos of a select set of monuments and memorials in Mt. Hope Cemetery. Aiming to create an informative, virtual experience of Mt. Hope, our students produced brief reports about the monuments as well as the people they commemorate.

Ezra Andrews (1828 – 1900)

By: RaeVonna Houser

One of Rochester’s foremost community leaders of the 19th century was Ezra Andrews. He was born March 16, 1828. He co-owned Rochester’s Democrat newspaper. He died August 13, 1900.

William B. Morse (1824 – 1904) and Frances Case Morse (1841 – 1933)

By: Willem Oliveiri

This is the grave site of the Morse family within the Mt. Hope cemetery. The Morse family made many contributions to the city of Rochester. William B. Morse was very passionate about his family and his lumber business. He made many contributions to the lumber industry of Rochester, which continues to this day run by his great grandchildren.

Frances Case Morse was the wife of William B. Morse and made many contributions towards the city of Rochester. She was a friend and a neighbor of Susan B. Anthony, and she supported the women’s suffrage movement.

George Baldwin Seldon (1846 – 1922)

By: Josiah Brown

George Baldwin Seldon was born in Clarkson NY and attended the University of Rochester. His father was a republican attorney who was most known for defending Susan B. Anthony. George dropped out of school early to join the Union Army, but his father convinced him to leave the military and enroll at Yale to study law. After school he practiced law and pursued work as an inventor. He is best known for establishing a patent for the first automobile.

Chester Dewey (1784 – 1867)

By: Jhy’Asia Jackson

Chester Dewey was born in Massachusetts 1784 and died in 1867. He erected a school which later became School 58/World Of Inquiry.

Leonard Henkle (1834 – 1904)

By: Ariane Cisse

Leonard Henkle was originally from Ohio. He lived several years with the Sioux, a people he cared about. He later joined the Civil War as a musician. He eventually moved to Rochester and became an inventor. One of his well known inventions was called “The rochester lamp.”

M. Louise Stowell (1861 – 1930)

By: Infinity Hernandez

M. Louise Stowell was an amazing artist who also specialized in water painting.Louise was born January 1st 1861 at Hornell, NY but moved to Rochester with her family when she was a baby. Louise was the daughter of Thomas P. Stowell, who was a mathematician and an insurance adjuster, and her mother, Henrietta Fowler. Stowell was a child of 5. 

M. Louise Stowell went to The Art Students League of New York. Louise helped shape Rochesters Art club. Louise taught at what’s now known as R.I.T. Louise inspired artists all around the world and even was the only female to win a prize in a German poster contest which gained her international admirers. Louise had a huge impact on the economy of Rochester’s art culture.Louise influenced Ellis (a fellow student of hers when she was in art school) who took on a similar art style as Louise even though others thought he influenced her. M. Louise Stowell sadly stopped making art in 1909 and started running an imported goods shop till she died in February 1930. M. Louise Stowells brilliance will forever live through her art.Thank you for helping to open eyes to the world of art. 

George Clarkson (1811 – 1905)

By: Tiketa Thomas

An immigrant from Edinburgh, Scotland, George Clarkson served as the 39th Mayor of Rochester, New York. He was known for actively seeking out the deaf community to see how he could provide a better environment for their students. He took the initiative to start a series of conversations about the quality of care that deaf children were receiving. His efforts led to the foundation of Rochester’s School for the Deaf.

Fletcher Steele (1885 – 1971)

By: Ciara Jones

Fletcher Steele was born in Rochester on June 7th, 1885 and passed at the ripe old age of 86 on July 16th, 1971. Steele was an architect and went to Harvard for graduate school. Starting from 1915 he built over 700 gardens. He wanted to build from the moment his mother commented on a pretty site in Turk Hill. She described how beautiful it was and from that very moment he wanted to build things for people so that they could also see things that are beautiful. 

Margaret Woodbury Strong (1897 – 1969)

By: Syd Ferree

Margaret Strong was an eccentric collector born to a wealthy family living in Rochester. She collected a great many items throughout her life including toys, magazines, buttons, doorknobs, lamps, artwork, model ships, furniture, clothing, coins, stamps, and the list goes on. Her collection is varied in its scope and large in size, containing more than 300,000 items.

She showed interest as a young child in collecting toys, something that only grew with age as she accompanied her parents on trips overseas. By the time of her death, her collection of dolls numbered 22,000, and her collection of bookplates 84,000. In 1968 she created a state charter that would turn her estate into the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum of Fascination, and provided 100,000,000 dollars for its construction. It was started in 1973 and was not finished until 1982. Her massive collection of toys and other objects provides not only a source of amusement for Rochester, but a source of education and information about things made in the past.

Zebulon Hebard (1793 – 1852)

By: David Buyon

Zebulon Hebard was born August 1, 1793 and died February 23, 1852. Hebard founded “Hebard’s Steam Marble Works” on south St Paul. The masonry is the oldest stone business in Western NY.

Henry B. Rundel (1844 – 1886)

By: Paola Ebumbu

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