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ODU's Noor to Speak to Global Conference on Interactive, Immersive 3D Classroom

Ahmed Noor, director of Old Dominion University's Center for Advanced Engineering Environments (CAEE), will be a keynote speaker at the Seventh International Conference on Engineering Computational Technology in Valencia, Spain, in September.

Noor, the William E. Lobeck Professor of Aerospace Engineering, will articulate CAEE's future vision for virtual world technologies, a vision that will also be outlined in an upcoming issue of the international Journal Advances in Engineering Software.

"Many people have enjoyed the new technology used in the movie 'Avatar,' though it provided only a 'passive' 3D stereo capability for the viewers," Noor said.

At an open house last May at the CAEE, Noor and his staff demonstrated the concept of an Interactive Immersive Classroom with interactive 3D stereo capability.

"The overall goal of these activities is to develop a next-generation digital ecosystem," an immersive, interactive cyber environment for education, research, training and product creation, Noor explained.

In his Advances in Engineering Software article, titled "Potential of Virtual Worlds for Remote Space Exploration," Noor describes CAEE's vision for a remote space exploration ecosystem.

With renewed interest by governments in space exploration, both in Europe and the United States, Noor said the public must be motivated and engaged to accept the high cost of such missions. That's where the immersive technology is useful.

"Not everyone can be a space explorer, but the immersive synthetic environments and virtual world facilities can provide visual simulations of future space missions and give the public the sense of being there," Noor writes.

Recognizing the benefits of virtual worlds for space-related activities, the aerospace industry and NASA have initiated programs for developing and using so-called immersive synthetic environments. "In addition to gaining popularity for virtual space exploration, the academic, industry, business, military and government applications of virtual worlds are multiplying rapidly," Noor says in his article.

CAEE is already working with a number of academic and business partners to significantly enhance the effectiveness of the immersive classroom for learning, training and accelerated workforce development.

"We are also working on blending the physical immersive space with virtual worlds, and on adding intelligent holographic avatars in the virtual world that serve as technical assistants," Noor said.

CAEE's vision has been highlighted on the cover of several national magazines, and Noor has been invited to be the first editor-in-chief of a new online journal of engineering that will focus on future visions and innovations in engineering and technology.

"I believe our work can lead to a deep and significant transformative change in learning, training and virtual product creation," Noor said. "However, we have not been able, as of yet, to get the necessary funding from federal agencies to support this innovative work."

This article was posted on: January 13, 2010

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