Extended Reality (XR) is a term that refers to the combination of real and virtual environments using computer technology, including Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR). These engineering tools can greatly enhance the student learning experience:
- AR users experience the real world with an overlay of computer generated digital information. AR devices include the Microsoft HoloLens, Google ARCore and Apple ARKit.
- VR immerses a user in an entirely simulated environment that shuts out the physical world. With VR devices like the HTC VIVE, Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard, users can “look around” the artificial world, move around in it, and interact with virtual features or items.
- MR is the merging of real and virtual environments, and with tools like the Microsoft HoloLens, users can interact with both physical and digital objects in real space.
How to Start Using XR
CAEN can assist College of Engineering instructional faculty with exploring how XR can be integrated into their courses. In addition to the equipment located in a number of flexible learning spaces, CAEN uses an experimental space in the Duderstadt Center to explore this technology, and test new products and software applications as they emerge. The Michigan Engineering Visualization & Beyond website provides further information on these spaces, including the Visualization Studio which provides open access to a space outfitted with several VR stations, available to all U-M students and faculty.
Faculty who are interested in visiting the space may contact CAEN to set up a consultation or demonstration. They will have the opportunity to engage with leading-edge XR technology, and explore its potential within their curriculum.
CAEN consultants are available to help if and when instructors choose to integrate XR technologies into their course. Once it is determined that the technology should (and could) be used, CAEN can assist faculty within our experimental space or a departmental lab, and help track the latest product updates. Our consultants can also help develop ideas further, and provide direction for how to use it to better enable teaching and learning innovations for their courses.
For general questions about using XR technology, College of Engineering faculty are encouraged to contact a CAEN consultant.