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Michigan State becomes first US university with Igloo Vision 360° VR room

Michigan State University is set to open a cutting-edge Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL) within it’s Main Library that includes a 360° immersive visualisation room, designed by Igloo Vision and the first of its kind in any US university.

MSU Libraries and the College of Arts & Letters partnered to build the 10,000sqft Digital Scholarship Lab, which, besides the 360° immersive visualisation room, will feature a virtual reality room with VR headsets, instruction space, meeting rooms, offices, and a dedicated room for digitisation projects. The facility will officially open on 5 February with opening week events planned 5-9 February.

This unique space affords students and faculty access to equipment and experiences unavailable anywhere else in higher education

Christopher P. Long, MSU’s College of Arts & Letters

The 360° immersive visualisation room can accommodate up to 15 people at a time and will offer flexible applications for all disciplines in teaching, learning, and research. Michigan State University is the first university in the US to have an Igloo Vision visualisation cylinder, which is designed for multi-disciplinary use and has a software platform that allows for display of a number of visual formats.

The VR room will feature four VR headsets, two Oculus Rifts and two HTC Vives. There also will be workstations throughout the lab with high-speed computers and software to support sophisticated design and data analysis and to facilitate cross-disciplinary collaboration.

“Located at the heart campus, our students and faculty now have access to a state-of-the-art facility that elevates our widely recognised strengths in the digital arts and humanities,” said Christopher P. Long, Dean of MSU’s College of Arts & Letters. “This unique space affords students and faculty access to equipment and experiences unavailable anywhere else in higher education. This space represents the power of collaboration. It will be a destination for the best faculty and students at MSU and across the globe.”

In the immersive visualisation room, history classes can use Google Street View to explore architecture from around the world; art history classes can engage in the process of an archaeological dig right from the lab in East Lansing; interior designers can make their designs come to life; and game developers can develop and display their video games in a fully immersive environment.

“Stepping inside one of these spaces is a little like stepping inside a giant VR headset,” said Peter Halliday, head of communications for Igloo Vision. “And, because entire teams can get inside, it’s always a shared experience, so it’s ideal for collaborative teamwork, research projects, and training.”

“The workstations, the digitisation, and the virtual reality are all available to differing degrees at places across campus, but we’re bringing them into one space and making them more available through longer hours, a dedicated service point, and consultations,” said Terence O’Neill, head of digital scholarship and makerspace services at MSU Libraries. “The Digital Scholarship Lab will be a place for specialised groups across campus to learn from one another and create a community around digital scholarship.”