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University of Waterloo professors help build the metaverse

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The Ontario researchers are among 17 Canadians who have each received an unrestricted grant of $30,000 from Reality Lab Research from Meta to support their work.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg talks about the metaverse as if it were the future of the internet.

It’s a term that’s been around for a while and continues to evolve. Sounds like the way people talked about the internet in the 1980s, explains Daniel Vogel, who is a professor in the School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo.

But for Jian Zhao, it is a medium that mixes the real world and the virtual world.

A boy wearing a virtual reality headset,

Researcher Jian Zhao and his doctoral students study the different styles of interactions between virtual reality broadcasters and their audiences.

Photo: (CBC/Doug Herbert)

Dr. Zhao’s research, who also works in the computer science department, focuses on how people and computers interact.

He says he wants to better understand how this relationship can work in a more immersive environment like the Metaverse.

A lot of information is displayed on desktop computers or mobile phones, but the metaverse is a growing new trend for information display and exploration.launches the researcher.

What interests me the most in this area of ​​research is how people become more immersed in data and how they explore information. »

A quote from Jian Zhao, computer science professor at the University of Waterloo

At the moment, Zhao and his doctoral students are studying the different styles of interactions between virtual reality broadcasters and their audiences. He says he wants to use Meta’s grant to find ways to improve virtual reality technology and make it more immersive.

We want to study the frustrations and difficulties faced by virtual reality broadcasters and viewers in order to facilitate this communication, he said.

Spatial augmented reality

Researcher Daniel Vogel, for his part, uses projections, which is called spatial augmented reality (RAS).

Imagine you have special building materials, like paint or tapestry made up of pixels, he explains. With it, everything is able to display information, even walls, floor, cups.

The researcher and his students use specialized projectors, cameras and calibrated software to make these projections. The necessary infrastructure was developed under a previous grant Mr. Vogel had obtained.

Thanks to this new grant from Meta, he will be able to test different scenarios and buy more equipment.

A projector.

Researcher Daniel Vogel and his students use specialized projectors like this in their research.

Photo: CBC/Carmen Groleau

According to Prof. Vogel, Meta’s unrestricted grant demonstrates the value of Canadian talent and gives Meta the opportunity to experiment with new ideas.

The grant also allows them to indirectly experiment with certain ideas – like the one in my lab – that may not have near-term commercial viability.he says.

Researchers Daniel Vogel and Jian Zhao say that the development of the metaverse is in its early stages and the path will be bumpy. But it is that their research could have an impact.

Our role as researchers is to try different things and think about some problems we might encounter in this new type of technology, says Vogel. Our goal is to work to resolve these issues now.

With information from CBC News

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