The proposed project is inherently multi-disciplinary. It brings together the knowledge from many engineering disciplines and combines it using augmented reality. The intellectual challenge lies in the synergy of different sensors, the interpretation and integration of their data with other information about the work-place, and the choice of the right metaphor for unobtrusive presentation to the user. We believe that small teams of junior- or senior-level undergraduate students are able to rise to this challenge.
The end product of the proposed endeavor is a series of innovative pilot projects. Each project will be a practical application of augmented reality in a setting where detection of hazardous condition may prevent death or injury and reduce human exposure to risk. The practical challenge is to make each pilot project a useful and immediately applicable tool.
We believe that such pilot projects can not be successful funded by the customary funding sources because of their small size, proportionally large startup costs, and the inability to effectively demonstrate in writing their potential to the sponsors. Therefore, the University of Michigan Presidential Initiatives Fund is a unique funding source for the proposed project.
One portion of the funding requested for this project will be used to acquire the augmented reality related equipment not already available in the Media Union Virtual Reality Laboratory. This equipment (augmented reality visors, interface cards and dedicated computers) will be housed in the Media Union and will augment the existing facilities.
Potential for high gain lies in the the proposed blending of different engineering technologies with a strict goal of practical application. The success of this project will install the University of Michigan as a pioneer in practical application of augmented reality as well as a nation-wide leader in involvement of undergraduate students in meaningful and highly visible research.