January 7, 2018

Facebook partners with the University of Washington to create new AR/VR research center

By: Meta Research

Today, the University of Washington announced the UW Reality Lab, with Facebook as one of its founding partners.  The lab is a new augmented and virtual reality research center designed to accelerate innovation in the field and educate the next generation of researchers and practitioners. We are thrilled to have played a role in the creation of the UW Reality Lab, and look forward to working with students on projects that explore the opportunities in AR and VR.

Housed in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering and located in Seattle, a national hub of VR activity and also home to Oculus Research and Facebook Seattle, the $6 million UW Reality Lab creates one of the world’s first academic centers dedicated to virtual and augmented reality.  It will support research and education initiatives with potential to deliver game-changing breakthroughs in the field.

The center will educate tomorrow’s AR and VR researchers and workers, by bringing together an interdisciplinary team of UW faculty, graduate students and undergraduates working in 3D computer vision and perception, object recognition, graphics, game science and education, distributed computing, stream processing, databases, computer architecture, and privacy and security.  Its partnership with industry will propel the field forward by allowing partners to test new ideas in a focused setting with computer science students. An advisory board of luminaries from across the AR and VR community will help the center remain at the forefront of the field.

“At Oculus Research, we’re committed to solving the biggest problems facing AR and VR. We’re excited about the rapid growth of AR and VR research and development in the Seattle area, and we look forward to working with the University of Washington and the UW Reality Lab to help invent the future,” said Michael Abrash, Chief Scientist, Oculus Research, and UW Reality Lab Advisory Board Member.

Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman, Research Scientist at Facebook and Assistant Professor, Paul G. Allen School of CS & Engineering at the University of Washington will also co-lead the center. “When you think about VR and AR, there are many challenging open problems that we all need to solve to be able to move the field forward,” said Kemelmacher-Shilzerman. “Facebook is a very open company with a strong track record of academic collaboration, open sourcing and publishing. Progress is happening at a rapid pace, but to solve the really hard problems it requires academia and industry to work together.”

“As we work to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together, augmented reality and virtual reality will form a growing role as the technical foundation for many experiences. We are thrilled to play a part here at Facebook and Oculus in educating and collaborating with the next generation of AR and VR researchers to accelerate the power of this technology,” said Michael Cohen, Director of Computational Photography at Facebook and UW Reality Lab Advisory Board Member.

“If we can build AR and VR technology that improves our lives and creates new ways to experience and connect the world, in ways we can’t imagine today, that’s really exciting.” says Kemelmacher-Shilzerman.

Follow the research happening at the UW Reality Lab from its Facebook page.